Fall 2014
rain garden2 compAh, Fall in the Pacific Northwest, with the pitter-patter of raindrops on your roof, signaling the end of summer.  Storms lasting for hours, if not days!  So, where does all that rain water go?  Does the runoff flow from your roof drains, across your driveway, and onto your street, finally running to the nearest storm drain?  Or does the runoff stay on your property; is it collected in a rain barrel or directed to a rain garden?  What’s a rain garden?  Rain gardens are a common-sense feature for a Pacific Northwest yard, consisting of planted, shallow depressions that collect runoff from rooftops, driveways, and other areas that don’t allow water to soak into the ground.  They can be shaped to fit your lot, landscaped to match the surroundings, planted to complement your existing garden, and are sized to temporarily store stormwater runoff (not a pond - no standing water!!).

rain garden3 compHow do rain gardens work?  Rain gardens use soils and plants to slow and reduce rain water runoff, allowing it to soak naturally into the ground where the soils allow.  Pollutants (including oil and grease from driveways and pesticides/fertilizers from lawns) carried in the runoff collect in the rain garden and filter through the plants’ root systems and soil.  As a result, those pollutants are kept out of our local water bodies.  Remember, storm drains in Edmonds don’t flow to wastewater treatment plants, but discharge without treatment to our local water bodies.  Any polluted runoff we direct to rain gardens is runoff we keep out of Edmonds Marsh, one of our many small creeks such as Shell or Perrinville Creek, Lake Ballinger, and Puget Sound.

The benefits of rain gardens extend beyond stormwater treatment.  Rain gardens are beautiful additions to your landscaping, enhancing your property.  They provide habitat for beneficial insects and birds; reduce flooding, sewer overflows, and erosion in streams by absorbing runoff from hard surfaces; and increase groundwater recharge.

rain garden compTo promote the use of rain gardens, the City of Edmonds is starting a Residential Rain Garden Program.  The goals of the program are to reduce stormwater runoff, educate residents about stormwater issues, and involve the residents in stormwater management solutions by helping them install rain gardens on their property.  The City has already gathered a group of residents who have expressed interest in installing rain gardens on their property.  We’ve also involved the Snohomish Conservation District and WSU Extension, to use their established rain garden programs to teach/coordinate our resident volunteers and possibly provide funding for the rain gardens.  At least one neighborhood will be selected for the rain garden cluster based on the following requirements:
  • There are at least 6 property owners willing to install rain gardens, and neighbors are supportive of the rain garden program;
  • Each rain garden must be planted entirely on private property and will be maintained by the property owner;
  • Site conditions, particularly soil drainage characteristics, are favorable for rain gardens (to be verified prior to selection);
  • The rain garden must be visible from the street.

If you’re interested in joining, talk to your neighbors and build some excitement about installing rain gardens in your neighborhood.  Let them know that the City has resources, and possibly funding, to make this happen.  Please contact Patrick Johnson at the City of Edmonds by December 1, 2014 if your neighborhood has at least six interested property owners wanting to participate.  You can also contact Mike should you have questions about rain gardens, rain barrels, or other stormwater issues at pat.johnson@edmondswa.gov or 425.771.0220 x1322.  Or for information on rain gardens, go to the 12,000 Rain Gardens resources page (http://www.12000raingardens.org/resources/), which includes the current rain garden handbook, a great guide for homeowners interested in installing rain gardens. 

dont drip drive compAnd now, an update to our summer newsletter article “Don’t Drip and Drive – Get Those Leaks Fixed” (link to summer 2014 newsletter article):  the City of Edmonds, WSU Extension and Sound Salmon Solutions successfully held two vehicle-leak detection events on August 22 at the Edmonds PCC Market and September 15 at Yost Pool.  The events were part of the Puget Sound-wide Don’t Drip and Drive campaign, designed to build awareness and educate people about checking vehicles for leaks regularly to keep cars on the road and protect local waters.  A total of 148 cars were checked at the two events and 4 cars were found to have leaks.  Car owners were given a voucher for a free professional evaluation at a participating repair shop, and discounts for repairs.  That’s 148 cars with empowered owners, on their way to keeping vehicle fluids out of our local water bodies.  As you may know, more than 7 million quarts of motor oilannuallydrips out of vehicles onto streets and parking lots and makes its way to lakes, rivers, and streams including Puget Sound.  Most of this toxic pollution comes from small drips from cars and trucks.  More information on the campaign can be found at www.fixcarleaks.org.

Puget Sound Starts Here

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