Improving Puget Sound Water Quality through "Green Street"

Improving Puget Sound Water Quality through "Green Street" Natural Drainage Design Alternatives : Part 1 The Health of the Puget Sound is in Danger

First in a series of posts on our Sustaining Affordable Communities grant, courtesy of The Russell Family Foundation:  Improving Puget Sound Water Quality through “Green Street” Natural Drainage Design Alternatives

In a time when science and communications allow us to understand how far reaching the impacts of our choices and actions are to our local and global communities, we must continue to look at designing for our environment in new ways.  In 2009, the EPA ordered that some 800 cities exceeding EPA’s standards for water quality, must clean up their act.  

Studies have shown that stormwater may be the leading cause of water quality and habitat problems in urban waterways.  The pollution washed away from the city in the form of polluted runoff injures aquatic organisms, their habitat, and harms human health.  

One of the greatest threats to water quality is a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) which collects sewage from homes and buildings and stormwater from rooftops and streets in one combined sewer

During heavy rains, stormwater accounting for 90% of the system’s load and sewage (10%) exceed the capacity of the system, causing a combined sewer overflow into the nearest waterway.  There are 90 permitted CSO outfalls into Seattle’s waterways.  In 2010 there were 339 CSO events, more than 3 times what is allowable.  These events poured 190 million gallons from the combined sewer into waterways like Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Shilshole Bay.

With continued population growth, the number of cars, people and impervious area has been increasing, adding more and more pollutants to our city and waterways.   Yet, there is something we can do about it!  Stay tuned!  For more information on Seattle’s Long Term Plan for Combined Sewer Overflow Reduction, refer to this link:

“No one has the right to use America’s rivers and America’s waterways, that belong to all the people, as a sewer.  The banks of a river may belong to one man or industry or one state, but the waters which flow between the banks should belong to all the people”  — President Lyndon B. Johnson