top of page


Stormwater 101

Stormwater 101

VIDEO - Stormwater 101, Youth-Voiced Expert Topic Series (11:36)

Watch Anshika Rath, a 10th grade Sustainability Ambassador explain why stormwater is a problem in the Puget Sound bioregion. 


INFOGRAPHIC - Stormwater Pollution, the Big Picture

4-page infographic highlighting stormwater issues in King County.


INFOGRAPHIC - Preventing Pollution 

1-page infographic on surface water management with plenty of statistics and goals.


INFOGRAPHIC - Orcas Love Rain Gardens

1-page infographic detailing how rain gardens filter stormwater, preventing Southern Resident Orcas from ingesting harmful pollutants.


INFOGRAPHIC - Stormwater Pollution, the Big Picture

4-page infographic that takes viewers through stormwater issues to solutions, county and local. Also check out the resource links in the infographic for tips and tricks for preventing stormwater runoff.


INFOGRAPHIC - Trees Tame Stormwater

This 1-page infographic by the Arbor Day Foundation breaks down the great environmental impacts of trees, especially for stormwater. Also check out the Arbor Day Foundation, they are the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to planting trees!


All You Need to Know About Stormwater Runoff - Sightline Institute

“If you read one stormwater story, make it this one” A stunning and insightful article by Lisa Stiffler detailing how the overflow of untreated stormwater is harmful not only to the environment but to us, as well as the shift from grey to green for cities.


How We Got Into Such A Mess With Stormwater - InvestigateWest 

With an introduction through the unique perspective of a puget sound diver, Katie Campbell asks, and answers the question of “How did stormwater pollution become this?” interviewing researchers and advocates. 


Stormwater Fixes Could Cost Billions

"It took us 100 years to create the problem, and it's going to take a long time to fix it." An overview by the University of Washington detailing the staggering costs of fixing puget sound stormwater runoff. Explore the site as well for accurate and specific information about the ecological importance of our Salish Sea and the threats it faces.


Polluted Stormwater Runoff - Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

This is an overview on Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and polluted stormwater, the rainwater that runs off our streets and is the number one toxic threat to Puget Sound. Check out other links on this site to learn more about this organization, whose mission is to protect and enhance the waters of Puget Sound for the health and restoration of our aquatic ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.


700 Million Gallons

In an urban environment like Seattle, every storm washes pollution from rooftops, roads, and other hard surfaces into local waterways. What can we do? Find out at 700 Million Gallons, a site featuring projects, resources, and information related to Green Stormwater Infrastructure as a solution for managing polluted water. Be sure to take some time to understand the significance of this goal for King County under the site’s “The Goal” page.

Policy Background

Policy Background

History of the Clean Water Act - EPA

The USA’s federal control of pollution began in 1948, paving the way for a series of policies and programs designed to ensure clean water across the country. See the EPA’s “Quick Links” and full website for more info. 


VIDEO - History of the Clean Water Act (5:18)

Very effective video. The Landmark Legislation was a fundamental turning point in the protection of all freshwater in the United States. The Clean Water Act's stated goal was to make all water fishable and swimmable. This law is the source of all modern day water protection. 


Loving Puget Sound to Death

In 1972, under the Clean Water Act, states were given more power to oppose industry contaminants in their rivers, lakes, and wetlands. However, as one policy director pointed out, “Storm water is destructive in a less obvious way.” This article speaks to the impact and policy choices behind stormwater runoff in the Puget Sound. 


VIDEO - Understanding the Clean Water Plan Process (3:47)

How can we impact King County's Clean Water Plan and how does it impact us? Learn about different decisions the county is making and how they plan to move forward.

Sources of Pollution

Sources of Pollution

Pollution in Our Waterways

See Puget Soundkeeper’s page on how pollution impacts waterways in the Puget Sound. This page takes readers back to the historical sources of contamination in 1853 and how pollution is seen in our modern environment in a variety of forms. Learn about different types of toxic material from marine debris to agricultural pollution and oil spills. 


17 Toxic Chemicals of Concern in Puget Sound 

The Washington Department of Ecology is partnering with the Puget Sound Partnership and others on a long term effort called the Control of Toxic Chemicals in Puget Sound. The project incorporates descriptions of the 17 toxic chemicals of concern, data about sources, loading, pathways, and priority actions.



Overview on Floodplains

See Snohomish County’s brief webpage on floodplains, how they control flooding, filter runoff, and provide a stunning habitat for local ecosystems. Explore further with the links provided, detailing life in the floodplain, safety, and more.


Living with the River

An in-depth analysis of western Washington rivers, how they flood, and how to adapt our behavior and systems to exist in harmony with their natural cycle. This 44-page guide from the Snohomish County Government is full of scientific analysis, public policy, beautiful images, and real world relevance for advanced students. 


UW-Northwest Climate Assessment Report

The “Northwest Climate Assessment Report (2013)” from the University of Washington explores climate change implications for local landscapes, water systems, and communities. The full report is 271 pages, full of technical language, complex graphs, and complex concepts. However, this report also comes with a much more accessible 2-page summary and series of press releases.  


The Nature Conservancy – Floodplains By Design

Floodplains by Design (FbD) is an ambitious public-private partnership led by Ecology, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and Puget Sound Partnership. FbD works to accelerate integrated efforts to reduce flood risks and restore habitat along Washington's major river corridors. Complete with videos, infographics, and policy analysis, this initiative serves as the perfect model to study when looking for solutions. 

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Runoff from stormwater continues to be a major cause of water pollution in urban areas. It carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants through storm sewers into local waterways. Heavy rainstorms can cause flooding that damages property and infrastructure.


Historically, communities have used gray infrastructure—systems of gutters, pipes, and tunnels—to move stormwater away from where we live to treatment plants or straight to local water bodies. The gray infrastructure in many areas is aging, and its existing capacity to manage large volumes of stormwater is decreasing in areas across the country. 


To meet this challenge, many communities are installing green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to bolster their capacity to manage stormwater. By doing so, communities are becoming more resilient and achieving environmental, social and economic benefits. Basically, green infrastructure filters and absorbs stormwater where it falls.



Low Impact Development - Technical Guidance Manual for Puget Sound 

These manuals are developed by the EPA for state and local decision makers who are considering adoption of Low Impact Development, or Green Stormwater Infrastructure. These fact sheets explain the benefits of GSI/LID in clear terms and through examples, thereby eliminating barriers to implementation.


WSU Puyallup LID Research Program

The WSU Puyallup LID Research Program is one of the largest installations in the nation focusing on the rapidly expanding field of low impact development/green stormwater infrastructure. They offer the unique capability to conduct long-term research on full-scale, replicated bioretention and permeable pavement facilities. 


Soils for Salmon

Builders, developers, and landscapers are adopting practices that preserve and improve the soil on building sites, to grow healthier landscapes and protect our waterways

All About Rain Gardens

All About Rain Gardens

Resource Library - 12,000 Rain Gardens

Imagine this — 12,000 rain gardens dispersed across the Puget Sound Region. Check out Washington-specific visual resources featured on this site to learn about the compelling case for mass adoption of rain gardens in the Pacific Northwest.


How to build a rain garden

Great information page with resources on building a rain garden. Check one of their resources, a 5-minute video titled “Building a Rain Garden in the City,” showing the City of Port Townsend's work in using rain gardens to address stormwater pollution. 


VIDEO - Building a Rain Garden in the Pacific Northwest (32:07)

A 32-minute video detailing how to build a rain garden. You'll learn the important steps to follow to site, design, construct, and maintain a beautiful landscape feature that captures and filters polluted runoff, helps prevent flooding, recharges our groundwater aquifers, and creates habitat for birds and butterflies.


Catching Rain Factsheet: Rain Garden Construction

A checklist for constructing your rain garden with detailed information about steps in the process of building a rain garden. Use this to think about what it takes to have a successful, thriving garden!


Caring for Your Rain Garden

This 25-page rain garden guide contains snippets of useful information, from weeding to organizing rain garden care. They even have a “Care Calendar!” See page 25 for this table outlining the weekly and seasonal tasks required to upkeep a newly installed rain garden. 


Spanish Language - Quick Guide to Caring for Your Rain Garden 

This shorter document reflects key details from “Caring for Your Rain Garden” in Spanish.

Keep It On Site

Keep It On Site

Disconnecting Downspouts - Rainwise

Check out this 2-page pamphlet with guidance on disconnecting downspouts to reduce sewer overflows and protect our streams. The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” section on page 1 is particularly helpful. Disconnecting a downspout improperly could cause you or your neighbors big problems, such as wet basements, flooding, erosion, or landslides. 


VIDEO - How to Disconnect your Downspout (14:55)

Disconnecting your gutter's downspout from the sewer system is an effective and easy way to help reduce the risk of combined sewer overflows during heavy rain events, while providing extra water for lawns and other plants. Watch as Friends of the Rouge and Sierra Club demonstrate this DIY downspout disconnect at a local house in Detroit as part of the Land + Water WORKS Coalition.

Permeable Pavements

Permeable Pavements

Permeable Pavement Tip Sheet

Permeable, or pervious pavement, is designed to let rain pass through to soil beneath paved areas. Learn about the benefits, uses, and design of permeable pavement here. 



"Depave" empowers disenfranchised communities to overcome social and environmental injustices and adapt to climate change through urban re-greening. "Depave" transforms over-paved places, creates resilient community greenspaces, promotes workforce development and education, and advocates for policy change to undo manifestations of systemic racism.

Harvesting Rainwater

Harvesting Rainwater

Seattle Rainwater Harvesting Guide

Seattle Public Utilities’ Rainwater Harvesting page provides a formula for calculating rainwater fall, links to useful websites, and other resources. The Northwest gets a lot of rain in the winter. We get so much that it sometimes causes problems like flooding, sewer overflows, stream erosion, and carrying urban pollution into our waterways. But in the summer we get very little rain, so it makes sense to conserve. 


Rainwater Harvesting for Beneficial Use

A good overview of larger rainwater systems intended for indoor uses, along with code and design requirements. This 11-page guide was produced by the Seattle Department of Planning and Development and includes details about permitting. 


King County Rain Barrel Information and Sources

Factsheets and suppliers to help you find or build a system, as well as learn more about rain barrels.


American Rainfall Catchment Systems Association

See links to other resources for design professionals, as well as current news on rainwater harvesting around the U.S. The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) strives to provide resources and information on rainwater and stormwater collection.


Rainwater Harvesting for Outdoor Use

As a part of the King County Green Building Handbook, this page includes detailed information for homeowners in particular about successfully harvesting rainwater for outdoor purposes.

Increase the Tree Canopy

Increase the Tree Canopy

Trees for Seattle

Seattle government’s main page for tree restoration work, policies, and goals. Their “Urban Forestry Story Map” is worth a good look! 


2020 Seattle Urban Forest Management Plan

This 37-page forestry plan covers topics from current-day forestry to strategies and action items for future improvements. “Challenges of the Urban Forest” on Page 15 is a particularly interesting section, covering major problems Seattle must overcome for a healthy urban forest.


2020 Seattle Urban Forest Management Plan Executive Summary

This 6-page document provides a brief overview of action items within Seattle’s Urban Forest Management Plan.


Tree Canopy - GSI Solutions

Brief information page on about the stormwater benefits of planting more trees.

Natural Yard Care - King County

Yards are fun, beautiful, great spaces for relaxing! They’re an easy place to control too for a big impact on local stormwater. Check out this page’s “5 Steps to Natural Yard Care” guide.

About Your Pet

About Your Pet

Scoop the Poop

Short webpage from Seattle Public Utilities offering guidance and information about what to do with pet waste. Did you know that there are more than 125,000 dogs and 60,000 outdoor cats in Seattle? That amounts to about 50,000 pounds of pet waste every day!


Coliform Bacteria in Drinking Water

Learn about coliform bacteria, organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans. Coliform bacteria in drinking water can be an indicator of disease-causing organisms in the water system. This page has graphics and plenty of labels to break up paragraphs! 


6,000 pounds of dog poop a day: Kirkland locked in dirty war

Abandoned dog poop and Seattle rain make a messy pair! Everytime it rains in Kirkland, bacteria from dog poop is introduced into the water. Learn more about this crucial issue in Kirkland, a city with approximately 20,000 dogs and plenty of water.

Dog Doogity song

 A fun and educational PSA, starring Martin Luther, about the importance of scooping up dog poop. Learn more about what you can do to help Puget Sound at

About Your Car

About Your Car

Don't Drip and Drive

Use this website to learn how to diagnose car leaks and protect the Puget Sound. Want to check your own car? It’s simple! Check out Sustainability Ambassadors’ “Dont Drip and Drive” micro-impact project. 


The Problem with Car Washing

Washing your car on a paved surface, like in a driveway or parking lot is not a good idea. The soap and grime wash off and goes straight into a nearby storm drain that connects to a lake, stream or Puget Sound. Learn more about other options on this page or through our micro impact project, “Use a Commercial Car Wash.” Copy the document and make it your own!

West Coast Tribes call for national ban on 6PPD

This article details the 2023 petition to the Environmental Protection Agency from the S’Klallam, Puyallup, and Yurok tribes to ban the chemical 6PPD from tire manufacturing. This chemical creates a toxic by-product responsible for coho salmon deaths up and down the West Coast. Read on to learn more about the petition, treaty rights, and the cultural importance of salmon. 

New and Innovative Way to Filter out 6PPD

6PPD is a chemical that kills salmon, it’s transported off of our roadways into critical salmon habitat through rain. In partnership with the Nisqually Indian tribe and Long Live the Kings, Cedar Grove has created a gutter along Highway 7 to capture and filter the harmful chemical out of stormwater and protect the threatened Nisqually salmon. Read the article here to get background on Ohop creek, 6PPD, and an update on the effectiveness of this strategy! 

bottom of page