Paine Field settlement money building rain gardens

Sno-King Watershed Council still has money to spend on stormwater projects
Aug 30, 2017

Some 30 rain gardens are planned for neighborhoods in the Swamp Creek watershed, and another dozen are up for grabs.

The Sno-King Watershed Council (SKWC) is using settlement money to fund projects involving rain garden construction throughout the watershed, which originates in the Paine Field and West Casino Road area of South Everett and flows nearly 11 miles southward into King County, emptying into the Sammamish River just upstream of its outlet into Lake Washington.

When SKWC representatives discovered in November 2015 that Snohomish County’s Paine Field airport was constructing an unpermitted parking lot on airport property owned, the environmental advocacy group filed a citizen Clean Water Act lawsuit in February 2016. That lawsuit was settled and a consent decree was entered in the 9th Circuit Federal Court in November 2016.

The consent decree required Snohomish County to make a payment in lieu of penalty in the amount of $125,000 to pay for projects involving rain garden construction in the Swamp Creek watershed.

The rain gardens are being constructed by Farmer Frog and overseen by Earth Corps. The estimated value of these rain gardens will vary, though it is likely not to exceed $6,400 for each. The primary purpose of the rain gardens is to improve stormwater quality and reduce runoff; but rain gardens also offer an aesthetic landscape improvement and provide habitat for small birds.

“We are currently looking for homeowners who wish to have a rain garden installed in their front yard for free,” SKWC representative William Lider said. “Primarily we are looking for older homes constructed in the 1950s to 1990s that are suitable for stormwater retrofits.”

There are relatively few requirements to qualify for a rain garden.

The property must be located in the Swamp Creek Drainage basin, which includes Scriber Creek, Martha Lake, and the Lake Stickney drainage basins.

The property must be residential and not already have some form of stormwater flow control, and the landowner must agree to maintain the rain garden for a minimum of 5 years.

The property must be inspected by Farmer Frog to verify that the site is suitable for rain garden construction. To obtain an application to have your property evaluated for a free rain garden, please contact Zsofia Pasztor CPH at Farmer Frog zsofia@farmerfrog.org or Bill Lider at 425-776-0671.

You can learn more about rain gardens and their benefits on the Department of Ecology’s website, https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/1310027.pdf.

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