With the return of fall comes the return of rain to Western Washington, which does more than bring some relief from the summer heat. From the glaciers in Mt. Rainier National Park to the shores of Commencement Bay, rainwater nourishes our communities, supports forests and farmlands, and creates countless recreation opportunities. Ensuring this water remains clean and healthy ensures that Pierce County residents can continue enjoying this quality of life for generations to come.
Our water quality is under threat, though. Rainwater falling in our urban communities is not soaked up by forests and native plant communities like it was prior to development. Instead, this rainwater flows over buildings, roads, and lawns, picking up all the pollution on those surfaces: oil, pesticides, pet waste, and more. This toxic soup flows into local waterbodies and carries pollution into Puget Sound. Scientists estimate that up to 75% of all toxics in Puget Sound come from polluted stormwater runoff. These toxics destroy habitat and can make people and wildlife sick.
Fortunately, more and more people in cities are bring nature back into urban communities to keep polluted stormwater out of local waterbodies. Green stormwater infrastructure uses and mimics nature to reduce runoff during heavy rains and break down the pollution in the stormwater. That’s why the Pierce Conservation District (PCD) is offering Green Stormwater Mini-Grants for projects in our county’s most urban watersheds.
Individuals, community groups, nonprofits, and others are invited to apply for a mini-grant to support a green stormwater project in the Commencement Bay, Chambers Creek, and Lower Puyallup River Watersheds (map). Grant recipients can receive up to $4,000 to plant rain gardens, create urban habitat, depave a community space, or collect rainwater in a large rain tank.
- Rain Garden: bowl shaped gardens that capture, absorb, and clean stormwater runoff.
- Depave: projects that remove excessive and unwanted pavement to replace it with a green space.
- Urban Habitat: replacement of lawns or aggressive landscaping with pollinator-friendly and native habitat.
- Rain Tank: capturing roof runoff in a large cistern to later use it for watering during dry periods.
These projects help remove impervious surfaces (like turf lawns and excessive concrete) and capture stormwater runoff so it can be slowly infiltrated back into the soil and cleaned by plants instead of going down storm drains. Not only does green stormwater infrastructure benefit urban ecosystems, it can also meet landowner goals to beautify yards and address flooding issues on site.
Because polluted stormwater runoff comes from all our homes, neighborhoods, and communities, individual actions can add up to make a big difference in improving our water quality, protecting public health, and recovering wildlife. If you’re ready to do your part to protect our water and transform our urban communities, apply for a Green Stormwater Mini-Grant today!
If you want help getting started with your project, contact PCD! All grant applicants are offered a free site visit from PCD staff to help discuss ideas and create a site/planting plan for the project. To set up your site visit or to learn more about the mini-grants, contact Robb Krehbiel, Green Stormwater Program Manager, Pierce Conservation District, at firstname.lastname@example.org