Go on the Rainwise Walking Tour

Take a walking tour of Ballard’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) on Saturday and learn about getting your own raingarden – paid for my the city. The Rainwise Walking Tour will highlight rain gardens, landscaping designed for stormwater to soak into the ground and “green” alleys, which are made of porous concrete that water will soak through. The GSI is an effort to control the approximately 1.3 million gallons of stormwater that currently overflows into Salmon Bay and Lake Washington.

According to this flyer (.pdf), participants will:

  • Learn why Ballard is leading with green.
  • Discover how to create a beautiful yard and receive a RainWise rebate.
  • See rebated rain gardens and cisterns on private property.
  • Meet face to face with contractors to help get you started.
  • The walking tour is anytime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and starts at the Sunset Hill Community Center (3003 NW 66th St.) You can RSVP (rainwise@seattle.gov) or just show up.

    RainWise Roadshow coming to Ballard

    Ballard is the test market for Seattle’s new RainWise incentive program, which pays homeowner who live in certain areas of the neighborhood to create rain gardens on their property.

    On November 6th, see how Ballardites are taking advantage of the program and learn how to do the same. The Ballard RainWise Roadshow will offer informative displays and a self-guided walking tour of local projects that are preventing polluted runoff from overflowing into Salmon Bay.

    Seattle Public Utilities created this video for the Roadshow:

    Ballard RainWise Roadshow from Edgar Riebe on Vimeo.

    Susan Stoltzfus from Seattle Public Utilities sent us this:

    During heavy rains, pipes that carry combined stormwater and sewage overflow into the local waterway – a combined sewer overflow (CSO). Currently about two million gallons of combined stormwater and wastewater overflow into Salmon Bay every year.

    But we can reduce the amount of stormwater entering the sewer system and reduce CSOs by building rain gardens, cisterns, and green alleys. The walking tour includes stops at roadside raingardens, a green alley test site, and homes where residents have already received rebates that cover most of the cost of building a rain garden or installing a cistern on their own property.

    The Ballard RainWise Roadshow will be held on November 6th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sunset Hill Community Club (3003 NW 66th St). Feel free to drop in anytime. See the flyer here (.pdf).

    CityStream features RainWise program in Ballard

    The nearly century-old sewer system in parts of Ballard allows both raw sewage and stormwater to flow in the same pipes, a combined sewer system. During major storms, the water and sewage overflow into waterways. We’ve written several times about the combined sewer overflows (CSO) and the steps the city is taking to keep as much stormwater out of the sewer system as possible.

    Segment on RainWise program and the CSO issue can be found at 8:38

    This week’s edition of CityStream on the Seattle Channel focuses a segment on the CSO issue and how Ballardites are taking advantage of the RainWise incentive program to install raingardens in yards. In the segment they talk with Ballardite Eleanor Trainor about the four raingardens she installed in her yard. When big storms hit and the sewers overflow, “it imperils the sound, it imperils our home because the system can’t handle what we’re throwing at it,” Trainor says.

    Sewage rates may go up to fund mandatory project

    The city is embarking on a federally mandated project to reduce the stormwater and sewage overflow that currently enters local waterways. “Although the work is mandatory, restoring our waters is important to our quality of life,” says Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Director Ray Hoffman “In short, we believe it’s the right thing to do, because it enables us to better preserve the region’s environment and natural resources for future generations.” The city currently sends 100-million gallons of raw sewage and stormwater into Puget Sound during or after heavy rainfall, a number they’d like to shrink by 60 percent.

    The 15 year Combined Sewage Overflow project is expected to cost $500 million and SPU is asking that rate payers shell out more money starting in 2011. The proposed increases include four-percent more for residential wastewater in 2011 and 2012 and a drainage increase of 12.5 percent in 2011 and 11.5 percent in 2012. The Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhood Committee of the Seattle City Council will be discussing the rate hikes at Tuesday’s meeting. The presentation by SPU on the solid waste increase can be found here (.pdf) and the presentation on drainage and wastewater rates can be found here (.pdf).

    Construction on a roadside raingarden in Ballard.

    Ballard is the test neighborhood for the city’s “green solution” to the overflow problem. As we’ve written before, the city will reimburse certain homeowners (see map of eligible homes below) who participate in the RainWise program.

    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
  • Thank you Scott at CentralDistrictNews.com for photos and help with this story!

    City rolls out RainWise incentive program

    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