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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Mayor details new goal in Seattle's stormwater management

3/6/2013  11:00:00 AM

Mayor details new goal in Seattle's stormwater management
McGinn sets goal of 1,000 "green gallons" per resident by 2025

SEATTLE-Mayor McGinn today announced a new goal for managing Seattle's stormwater runoff by detailing a new effort where polluted runoff will be increasingly managed using natural drainage systems rather than traditional pipe and tank systems.

The Mayor's executive order-among the first of its kind in the nation- directs City departments to develop a coordinated approach to significantly increase the use of natural drainage systems to slow and clean polluted waters by filtering the water through vegetation and soil, much like a forest ecosystem does.

"Whenever possible, we should be looking for ways to better manage our stormwater with natural processes and leveraging our drainage investments," the Mayor said today, announcing a new goal to manage 700 million gallons of stormwater annually with green stormwater infrastructure, by the year 2025. "Seattle residents and businesses care about the environment. And that's why we are inviting the whole community to join us in this effort."

City Councilmembers have expressed support for citywide green stormwater goal and the Mayor's directive. Council will consider the goal in a resolution later this month.

"I am confident this initiative will be another success in the City's groundbreaking environmental history" said Councilmember Jean Godden, "From implementing the first recycling program in the country to negotiating the first of its kind Consent Decree with the EPA to clean up our waterways once and for all, we've always been leaders in protecting our environment through smart choices and innovative solutions. I know our residents will be behind this effort."

Councilmember Mike O'Brien added that relying on a distributed, green approach also builds flexibility and resilience into urban drainage systems to prepare for the uncertainties of climate change and is also well-aligned with other sustainability goals. "We can't just focus on doing less harm," he said. "It's really time to leverage our stormwater investments to help us with other future-looking goals like tree canopy recovery, energy savings, and improving the pedestrian environment of our city. This is a big step in the right direction."

"Green stormwater projects are high-value infrastructure investments that make our city more sustainable, and lay a strong foundation for meeting the city's comprehensive planning goals," said Councilmember Richard Conlin. "It's absolutely critical that we are making sound investments that will continue to benefit our residents and our urban ecology for generations."

"Seattle has long been a leader in the deployment of green infrastructure," said Karen Hobbs, Senior Policy Analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The Mayor's announcement not only lays a strong foundation for the city's ongoing infrastructure planning efforts, but also will be a valuable example for other cities."

The green stormwater goal will be achieved through a combination of City-led projects on public land, code-triggered private sector investments, and voluntary actions on private property. Given current population growth projections for Seattle, the goal works out to approximately 1,000 "green gallons" of green stormwater infrastructure-managed runoff per resident, per year, and represents about a six-fold increase over the amount of stormwater Seattle currently manages with green infrastructure.

Hundreds of millions of gallons of polluted stormwater runoff flow into Seattle's creeks, lakes, and Puget Sound every year-runoff that contains bacteria from sewage overflows and toxins like petro-chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals from our yards and cars. Green stormwater infrastructure helps prevent this pollution by slowing the runoff and using natural systems to filter and clean the water close to where it falls as rain.

Green stormwater infrastructure approaches include bioretention swales, raingardens, stormwater cisterns, pervious pavement, and green roofs. Seattle has been a national leader in the development and application of these technologies for over a decade, and these approaches are now considered best management practices by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Washington State Department of Ecology.

For more information on the city's green stormwater infrastructure policy and goals, please contact Pam Emerson with the Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment,, 206.386.4145.

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Office of the Mayor

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