Redmond’s Rain Garden Challenge –

WSU, Jefferson County and Port Townsend all are investing a lot of effort to support rain gardens as a means of reducing storm water runoff from our streets and parking lots. Today’s article shows that there is still a lot of research needed on the engineering of these solutions, and that sometimes, they don’t work. If you care about this technology, you should read this whole story. It has a lot of in-depth information here. This is critical work, in that we are relying on rain gardens to be a significant piece of the puzzle to help restore Puget Sound and it’s wild fish stocks. Research has shown that the kinds of chemicals that rain gardens are supposed to be filtering, are those that can have very serious impacts on salmon, and bottom fish. In lieu of stopping development, they are one of our best possible alternatives to the current state of pollution.

When rain gardens release too much pollution, engineers go back to the drawing board.

In the stormwater world, if a rain garden is releasing more pollution into the environment than it’s capturing, word gets around.

So when the city of Redmond crunched its first flush of data from a new roadside rain garden and discovered the water coming out of it was tainted with alarming levels of phosphorus, nitrates, and copper, the stormwater community took notice. Washington State regulators went on the record to say that they would be studying the data and possibly revising their rain garden recommendations. Proponents of the technology fear that the results will be overblown and exploited by skeptics of so-called low-impact development solutions.

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