Update on the East Ballard Rain Gardens

24 07 2013

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Thank-you Cari Simson, Project Manager and Research Faculty at Antioch University and project coordinator for the East Ballard Rain Gardens for the following update:

Thanks to the great group of East Ballard neighbors and the EBCA, who have been shepherding this process along, we have selected a stretch of 11th Avenue NW between NW 56th Street and NW 58th Street for a series of roadside rain gardens. In March we conducted soil drainage tests (infiltration) and found very quick-draining soils in the project area. Over the Summer we will submit our complete permit package to SDOT, including the engineering drawings.

This Summer we will work with homeowners to select plants and trees for the roadside rain gardens. Stay tuned for many volunteer planting opportunities this Fall!

Later this summer, many homes in this area of E. Ballard will also be eligible for rain garden or cistern rebates through the RainWise program– stay tuned for this exciting opportunity!

What ARE roadside rain gardens?

Our small natural drainage projects will be engineered to absorb and filter the roadway runoff through swales that will drain quickly to prevent ponding, and divert any heavy storm flows back to the street and into the catch basin.

Polluted runoff – what’s the big deal?

The area known as East Ballard contributes approximately 2 million gallons of polluted runoff to Salmon Bay each year.  Imagine three Olympic sized swimming pools filled with roadway runoff!

Polluted runoff starts as clean rainwater that then comes in contact with toxins in our built environment, such as vehicle exhaust particles that settle on the ground, oil leaks, pet waste, garbage and other chemicals that end up on our roads, parking lots, roofs or other hard surfaces and flows into the nearest catch basin, which collects runoff underneath the drains found on most street corners.

Most of East Ballard’s North-South oriented catch basins connect into one big pipe that empties into Salmon Bay near the Fred Meyer store, with no treatment or filtration.

Polluted runoff enters the food chain and affects the health of marine creatures and the people who eat fish or shellfish.

Neighborhood history – the “11th Avenue Creek”

We learned from residents that an historic creek used to run parallel to 11th Avenue NW, from above where Ballard High School football field is down to Salmon Bay next to where the Fred Meyer store is located today. There are anecdotal stories about catching large salmon in the creek in the early 1900s.

We are working with the University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences to research additional details about the historic creek. Please contact us if you know anyone who might have photos or stories about the creek! We are interested in creating and sharing the oral histories.

We are also planning a neighborhood history tour this Fall that will highlight our research about the 11th Avenue Creek locations, East Ballard historical sites, and local natural drainage projects.

What is East Ballard Greenstreets?

In an effort to improve urban water quality and neighborhood livability, The Russell Family Foundation awarded Antioch University Seattle with funding to site, design and build demonstration roadside rain gardens in the East Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. The goals of our grant are specifically focused on reducing flows of polluted runoff to Salmon Bay, which connects to Puget Sound through the Ballard Locks. We are interested to learn how citizens choose to get involved in clean water efforts, specifically local natural drainage improvement projects that also provide street beautification, traffic-calming, tree canopy increases, and other goals.

The East Ballard Community Association (EBCA) is our neighborhood partner, and we welcome any residents from the area to get involved and help coordinate the design and construction process with the East Ballard property owners.

For more information, please contact Cari Simson, Project Manager and Research Faculty at Antioch University: csimson@antioch.edu / 206-234-5102

Learn more about the project on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EastBallardGreenstreet

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