Make a killer whale smile: Install a rain barrel, rain garden or green roof

Jun 01, 2012
Photo by: Itsuo Inouye Smiling killer whales at kamagawa Sea World, Japan. The mother whale’s name is “Earth,” the baby whale's name is “Lovely.”

There is a lot of new information about stormwater impacts on the health of Puget Sound’s killer whales (

Want to learn how to make a killer whale smile? One way is to reduce stormwater runoff that flows into local streams and Puget Sound. There are several simple and low costs techniques that you can put to use in your neighborhood and make that happen now.

On Wednesday, June 13, at 7pm, Kim Gridley, the Low Impact Development Coordinator for the Washington Stormwater Center ( will be at the Adopt A Stream Foundation’s NW Stream Center in Snohomish County’s Mc Collum Park (600 128th Street SE, Everett, WA 98208).

Gridley will describe the center’s new research activities on the benefits of installing rain gardens, rain barrels and other techniques that you can use to reduce stormwater runoff.

In urban areas around Puget Sound, much of the landscape that drains to streams is covered with rooftops, parking lots, and roads. Rainfall flushes immediately off these hard surfaces into storm drains that lead to streams that flow into the Sound. Unfortunately, the salmon runs that killer whales depend on for food are often destroyed in the process.

“When I talk with people about restoring salmon streams in urban areas, I often ask them to imagine if every lawn in their watershed is converted to a native plant plant landscape with no fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides,” Adopt A Stream Foundation Director Tom Murdoch said.

“I ask them to imagine if every roof downspout was connected to a rain barrel that overflowed into a rain garden that drained into the ground...and, I tell them that that will be good for salmon and make killer whales smile.”

The Washington Stormwater Center is not only gathering information on how much stormwater can be reduced by using these techniques, but the best soils and plants to use to absorb pollutants, and how to manage porous pavement to prevent water runoff.

Murdoch advises that the Adopt A Stream Foundation is working now on building a gate house to the Northwest Stream Center that will have a green roof that will reduce rainfall runoff. He plans to have that building ready by June 13 and have workshop participants install a green roof.

This event is sponsored by the Sno-King Watershed Council ( The workshop is geared to adults and mature youth. There is no costs, but you should call 425-316-8592 to register as space is limited.


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