Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities
A look at roadside rain gardens currently planted in another part of Ballard.

Roadside rain gardens coming to East Ballard?

More rain gardens may be coming to Ballard. This time, in East Ballard, on the other side of 15th Ave NW and just beyond the border of the combined sewer system. The project area is located east of 15th Ave NW, west of 3rd Ave NW, south NW 65 St and north of Leary Way.

Armed with a $55,000 grant from the Russell Family Foundation and sponsored by Antioch University, Cari Simson is testing the pulse of a block of neighbors to see if there is interest in installing roadside rain gardens.

Though not on the combined sewer system, Simson insists that there is still a need for preventing rain water from simply draining into Salmon Bay by the ship canal. The rain water sweeps up toxins and pollutants left on the streets, goes down into the storm drain and gushes right out into Salmon Bay. Unlike the combined sewer system, it does not go to the West Point water treatment plant to get treated.

The project, which will encompass just one block, will cost about $150,000 Simson said. But she was confident that with volunteer time and donations, the price tag could be cut down and would be of no cost to residents. She also said she had interest from other organizations in funding the project.

Among the residents, Dawn Hemminger of the East Ballard Community Association has thrown in her support.

“We’re always interested in activities that bring our neighbors together,” she said. “We not only saw this as a way to reduce pollutants going into Salmon Bay, but also as a way to bring everyone together and beautify our neighborhood.”

Hemminger also said she believes the project could be educational. Using interpretive signs, walking tours and other community events, residents could learn about what happens to their storm water, where it goes and what it can do to the Puget Sound.

As for expansion of the project, Simson said if this first act succeeds, she would love to see move beyond the original one block. She even said she wanted to make a user’s manual to pass out to other neighborhoods that would then use it to spark their own projects.

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