Antioch University Seattle to Build Public Roadside Rain Gardens in City’s East Ballard Neighborhood

Grant-funded urban ecology project will sustainably curtail polluted water runoff into Salmon Bay while building infrastructure and community

Seattle – Antioch University Seattle (AUS) students and faculty are closing in on completing a project that has the promise of reducing some of the approximately 2 million gallons of polluted water that drains into the city’s Salmon Bay each year. The East Ballard Greenstreet Project, will launch with a groundbreaking ceremony at 9 am on Monday, September 21 after years of planning with community partners and the City of Seattle. The public is invited to attend the event and learn about the block of roadside rain gardens to be installed along 11th Avenue NW at 58th Street in Seattle’s East Ballard neighborhood.  The project is funded through a $65,000 Russell Family Foundation grant as a pilot demonstration for future community-driven and environmentally-friendly drainage projects.

“Our small natural drainage projects will absorb and filter the roadway runoff before it can reach the catch basin system, which directs runoff into Salmon Bay at the end of 11th Avenue NW,” said Cari Simson, project manager and adjunct faculty at AUS’ liberal studies Bachelor Completion program. “The project has involved working collaboratively with the City of Seattle on revising permit rules so neighborhood leaders could build their own small-scale natural drainage projects in the road right-of-way.”

Managing roadway runoff is an important environmental consideration because it can easily transmit toxins and pollutants – such as vehicle exhaust particles, oil leaks, pet waste, garbage and other chemicals on roads and roofs – as it makes its way to the nearest catch basin, and ultimately the nearest waterbody. Polluted runoff enters the food chain and affects the health of marine creatures and the people who eat fish or shellfish.

The East Ballard Greenstreet Project was launched not only to offset pollution, but also show community, government and private groups how to work together to build rain gardens and use that experience to shape best practices for implementing similar projects elsewhere. Last year AUS helped coordinate Ballard High School students’ participation in an art workshop to raise awareness for the historic creek that runs underneath the neighborhood. And the completed rain gardens will become part of the fabric of the future community with educational signage and integration into local events, such as an upcoming “Discover your Neighborhood Watershed” walking tour around the rain gardens.

“This project illustrates how at AUS we look below the surface to solve problems in sustainable ways that truly make a difference in our communities,” Simson said.

The E. Ballard Greenstreet Project is funded through a grant from The Russell Family Foundation with support from Antioch University Seattle, the Washington Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and East Ballard Community Association. To learn more about the project or to get involved visit facebook.com/eastballardgreenstreet.

About Antioch University Seattle

Antioch University Seattle is a fully accredited, not for profit institution that is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. Antioch University provides real world knowledge, skills, and experience to adult students online and from its five campuses in four states, in addition to its University-wide international and doctoral programs. The University lives by its mission every day helping students realize their potential and succeed in their educational goals through an innovative learning environment that is rigorous and responsive to their needs. Antioch University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1927.

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