Photo by Jen Nance, Mayor's Office

Mayor announces exec order for stormwater management, but Ballard already on track

Yesterday, Mayor Mike McGinn announced an executive order: to increasingly manage stormwater runoff with natural drainage systems (like rain gardens) rather than traditional pipe and tank systems.

“Whenever possible, we should be looking for ways to better manage our stormwater with natural processes and leveraging our drainage investments,” the Mayor said, announcing a new goal to manage 700 million gallons of stormwater annually with green stormwater infrastructure, by the year 2025. “Seattle residents and businesses care about the environment. And that’s why we are inviting the whole community to join us in this effort.”

In Seattle, hundreds of millions of polluted stormwater runoff spew into Seattle's waterways each year. In Ballard specifically, runoff has been especially been problematic, as it's old combined sewer system overflows a disproportionate amount compared to the rest of the city. As we reported before, Ballard consistently contributes about 25 percent of the city's total runoff, even though the neighborhood only comprises about 1 percent of the city.

City Councilmember seem supportive of the Mayor's order, too. According to the Mayor's blog, they will be considering a resolution later this month.

“Green stormwater projects are high-value infrastructure investments that make our city more sustainable, and lay a strong foundation for meeting the city’s comprehensive planning goals,” Councilmember Richard Conlin said. “It’s absolutely critical that we are making sound investments that will continue to benefit our residents and our urban ecology for generations.”

However, in Ballard, things are already underway. Seattle Public Utilities' natural drainage project, which would install up to 20 blocks-worth of rain gardens, is in its initial phase of testing and community input. For their RainWise rain garden program, all of the houses that could be eligible are eligible.

Pam Emerson, from the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, said that nothing new is planned for Ballard as a result of the mayor's executive order.

Zachariah Bryan can be reached at

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