The Watershed Forum E-News
Restore Our Waters is the City of Seattle’s commitment to take actions and promote partnerships that protect and improve our creeks, lakes, the Duwamish River and Puget Sound.
Questions? Comments? Contact -

Norfolk Water Quality Project

The Norfolk Water Quality Project will reduce pollution in the Duwamish.

How is Seattle reducing pollution to the Duwamish River? One way is by the Norfolk Water Quality Project, a regional stormwater wet pond which began construction in 2011. This project is located just west of I-5 and north of the southern city limit. This new facility will treat stormwater from a 216-acre mixed-use basin (which includes industrial land uses) and will remove 13,000 to 77,000 pounds of sediments and associated pollutants (including metals, organics, and nutrients) from stormwater prior to entering the Duwamish Waterway every year. As part of the Norfolk-Martin Luther King Way Stormwater Improvement Project, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) made transportation improvements at the site.

The project is currently online with associated mitigation and plant establishment to be completed in 2013. This project will help improve our urban waterways.

First "Million Gallons" of Stormwater is out of the Combined Sewer System

The Underhill family with their rain garden.

In June 2010 SPU RainWise piloted a program to rebate residents who install rain gardens and cisterns on their property. These rebates pay for most of the installation cost. Rain gardens help:

  • slow stormwater
  • reduce the number of combined sewer overflows (CSOs)
  • keep out waterways clean and healthy

Since then, three more basins (North Union Bay, Delridge, and Winderemere) have become eligible for RainWise rebates.

  • The North Union Bay basin includes the Bryant neighborhood as well as parts of the View Ridge, Wedgwood, and Laurelhurst Neighborhoods.
  • The Windermere basin includes View Ridge, Windermere, and Laurelhurst neighborhoods.
  • The Delridge basin includes North Delridge, Highland Park, and Riverview neighborhoods.

SPU has trained 380 contractors, landscape architects and designers on the best practices for installing a rain garden and cistern in Seattle. To date, 162 installations are estimated to divert more than 1 million gallons of stormwater from Seattle's combined sewer system.

This is important because, during heavy rains, some combined sewer and drainage pipes can't handle all the volume. When that happens often, so does the following:

  • combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the nearest water body
  • flooding into homes
  • erosion of hillsides and stream banks

And as we know, rain that falls on our roofs, driveways and other hard surfaces becomes polluted, so diverting that water to a rain garden or cistern helps to protect our creeks, Lake Washington, the Duwamish River and Puget Sound.

We can all help to slow and clean the rain runoff from our homes with simple projects that are useful and attractive. If you live in a target CSO basin, you may be eligible for substantial rebates for installing a rain garden or cistern. 

UW Sustainability Summit October 24th

On October 24th from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. the University of Washington will be holding its 3rd annual Sustainability Summit at the Seattle Campus. Come join the festivities and find out how to get involved with sustainability on campus. Learn about the Campus Sustainability Fund and the UW Climate Action Plan, and discover how community partners contribute to sustainability at the UW.

The Summit includes a panel discussion and speaker series. Speakers this year include: 

  • KC Golden, Policy Director at Climate Solutions
  • Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft
  • Ellen Lettvin, VP of Science & Education at Pacific Science Center
  • Ruth Johnston, AVP Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

There will also be a poster session highlighting student-led projects funded by the University of Washington Campus Sustainability Fund. Past projects included:

  • an expansion of the UW Farm to nearly an acre
  • biodiversity green wall and edible green screen
  • bike repair stations
  • a storm water bioswale and many others

Prior to the Summit, on October 22nd, there was a free screening of the documentary Terra Blight. This documentary explores the impact of electronic waste and the need for proper electronics recycling. After the Summit, on October 25th, Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, will speak about sustainable food production and supporting local agriculture.

Learn more about the event at the UW Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability.

Midvale Project

The Midvale Project will reduce flooding.

The area near Midvale Ave N and Stone Ave N (north of Northgate Way) has a history of frequent flooding. In fact, this area was once known as Oak Lake. In 2007, on one of the wettest days in city history, the area faced flooding so severe that some residents had to be rescued from their houses.

To reduce the potential for flooding in Midvale, Seattle Public Utilities is constructing a stormwater holding pond. During big storms, this pond will temporarily hold up to 3 million gallons of stormwater, before it is slowly released into the existing stormwater system. Once the project is finished, the site will look more like a wetland pond.

The site includes a year-round pond that is three to five feet deep. Water will flow through the Midvale site year-round. As stormwater flows through the pond, sand, silt and pollutants will settle to the bottom. This process will improve water quality as the pond's excess water goes into Lake Union. SPU estimates that 15,000 to 23,000 pounds of pollutants will be removed from the stormwater flowing through the site each year.

Construction has already begun. The commercial buildings on the site have been demolished. SPU has dug out the area for the pond and started preparing the topsoil for plants. When the project is finished, the site will include many native trees, shrubs and grasses.

Install a Rain Garden or Cistern

For more information and maps of the eligible areas, visit Rainwise.

Seattle reLeaf

Love trees? Want to learn more about how you can help protect Seattle’s forested parks? Visit Seattle reLeaf.

Governing for Racial Equity Conference

For government, higher education, and philanthropy professionals who want to learn more about communicating about race or measuring racial equity.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Two great articles on Green Stormwater Infrastructure from Yale Environment 360 and Ballard News-Tribune.

Clean Water:
The Next Act

Watch Laura James' new video on the impact of stormwater on Puget Sound.

Maintain Your Car

Help keep our local waterways and wildlife safe from oil and other fluid leaks from your car.

Stay in Touch

You can follow us on Facebook.

Like this newsletter? Sign up
Unsubscribe me
Outreach Coordinator: Susan Harper (206) 386-9136