In Seattle, heavy rains can overwhelm the city’s combined sanitary and storm water pipes. This can cause a mix of raw sewage and polluted storm water runoff to overflow into the Puget Sound and surrounding waterways.
Thankfully, rain gardens and cisterns (think super-size rain barrels) can help address this problem. RainWise, a program of the city of Seattle and King County, offers substantial rebates to homeowners who install rain gardens and cisterns.
Attendees of this Saturday’s Green Home Tour will have the opportunity to see what these earth-friendly solutions to Seattle’s storm water runoff problem look like at two RainWise Sustainability Stops in South and West Seattle, hosted by local nonprofits.
In West Seattle’s Highland Park, the nonprofit Sustainable Seattle is working with the Highland Park Improvement Club to help beautify the property and remove unnecessary pavement to prepare areas for community green spaces.
“With these transformations, HPIC serves as a demonstration site and educational opportunity for the surrounding neighborhoods,” says Hannah Kett, Sustainable Seattle’s Neighborhood Program Manger. “The community is encouraged to take an active part in this project and learn about the impact they can make at home. It’s exciting to see so many getting involved!”
In the South Park neighborhood, the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) is providing tours and information in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Cambodian, as well as games and activities for all ages, and specialty foods and music reflecting the cultural heritage of South Park residents. Tour goers can start the tour at the “RainWise village green” in a block that includes rain gardens, refreshments, and indoor activities at the South Park Neighborhood Center. Visitors can walk, bike or drive on a short self-guided tour to explore how residential and community rain gardens (some located in urban farms) and RainWise cisterns are helping to control urban storm water runoff.
Elizabeth Louden, assistant director at ECOSS, says she “hopes many folks will have a chance to come see the diverse rain gardens and cisterns that residents have already set up and get inspired to get involved in making their own rain garden."
At both of these neighborhood Sustainability Stops, visitors will enjoy food, fun learning activities, and the chance to meet RainWise contractors who install cisterns and rain gardens. They can also take mini self-guided tours of installed RainWise rain gardens. Visitors can even find out if they are eligible for a RainWise rebate for a rain garden or cistern of their own.
Learn more about RainWise here