News for Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and beyond

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City rolls out RainWise incentive program

Posted by Geeky Swedes on April 30th, 2010

The City of Seattle is now offering financial incentives to Ballardites, who live in a specific area, to help reduce the amount of storm water that runs into the sewer system. We first wrote about the RainWise program back in January, which will help homeowners build rain gardens or install cisterns on their private property to allow water soak back into the ground.

An example of a residential rain garden.

Eligible homeowners must live roughly between 16th Ave NW and 33rd Ave NW and NW 65th St and NW 85th St (detailed map of boundaries below). “We will give them [homeowners] a per square foot dollar amount for every square foot of roof area that they disconnect from the combined sewer and put into either a rain garden or a cistern,” Bob Spencer with SPU tells us. As a minimum, a homeowner will have to control 400 square feet of roof area. Spencer says the rebate could be up to $4 per square foot.

Rainwise “really aims to get at the private property and try to make improvements there, and we think that with enough involvement we’ll be able to see a significant reduction in the volumes that are being channeled into those sewer systems,” Susan Stoltzfus with SPU says. Under this incentive program, about 3,000 homeowners are eligible. According to Spencer, SPU is predicting that this incentive program will keep an average of 151,000 gallons of water from running into Salmon Bay each year.

To be eligible, a homeowner must use a licensed contractor to build a rain garden. The city will not reimburse for a DIY (do it yourself) project.

SPU chose this specific area of Ballard because it is in a fully combined sewer system, Spencer says, meaning that storm water and sewage flow in the same pipes and when we have heavy rains, the system will overflow into Salmon Bay. The area also has a high number of single-family homes and relatively clean and sandy soil.

Resources for homeowners:

  • Residential RainWise information
  • Do research on controlling storm water, find out your home’s storm water impact, see what neighbors are doing
  • Map of eligibility area (.pdf)
  • Find out if you qualify for incentives & how to apply
  • Contractors listed by Seattle Public Utilities
  • Tags: Ballard   Share

    92 reader comments so far ↓

    • 1 Sasha // May 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm

      This is great. In the earlier post, people were all up in arms about lost the frivolous spending. Apparently they don’t realize how bad the storm water problem is. This city is facing fines from the federal government if something isn’t done. This is probably the low-cost alternative to some big giant sewer dig project. I’m going to get a big cistern and a rain garden. My spring water bill just got cut in half. Awesome.

    • 2 Be Green Landscapes // Jun 15, 2010 at 9:28 am

      Be Green Landscapes is an approved contractor by the Seattle Public Utilities for the RainWise Program. Contact me for a no-cost review of your property to see if it qualifies for the program.

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