Roadside Rain Gardens in Seattle’s East Ballard Neighborhood Keep Water Clean and Build Community

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

Seattle – Antioch University Seattle (AUS) and Urban Systems Design (USD) will celebrate the completion of a project that will reduce polluted runoff that drains into the city’s Salmon Bay each year. The East Ballard Greenstreet Project, will host a ribbon-cutting party on Saturday, May 20th from 1:30-2:30pm. Address: 1101 NW 57th Street, Seattle WA 98107.

 The public is invited to attend the event and learn about the block of roadside rain gardens that were installed along 11th Avenue NW at 58th Street in Seattle’s East Ballard neighborhood.  The project was funded through a $65,000 Russell Family Foundation grant as a pilot demonstration for future community-driven and environmentally-friendly drainage projects. The Duwamish Infrastructure Restoration Training (DIRT Corps) program, a green infrastructure job training program focused on women, people of color and other disadvantaged communities, completed the project installation in 2015 and has been monitoring the site for the past year. DIRT Corps crew will be on site to answer questions about green infrastructure.

“Our small natural drainage projects absorbs and filters 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 with Urban Systems Design, and adjunct faculty at AUS’ liberal studies Bachelor Completion program.

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. “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 The DIRT Corps  or contact Simson at 206-234-5102.

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