Tacoma rain gardens cleaning contaminants in Thea Foss Waterway


by JANET KIM / KING 5 News

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Posted on May 7, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 7 at 6:18 PM

TACOMA, Wash. -- Deemed a Superfund site in 1983, the City of Tacoma is now making headway to clean up the contaminated Thea Foss Waterway.

The city has been monitoring high levels of chemicals like arsenic and pesticides for 12 years, and recent tests show a decrease in 90 percent of contaminants.

Better known for its lights and sounds inside, Dorky's Arcade in Tacoma is now getting attention for its efforts outside. Owner Les Vorosbond sponsors one of the city's rain gardens. The City of Tacoma has 14 rain gardens, but sponsors only four. Coordinators hope businesses and organizations will chip in and help.

"I felt that it was my responsibility to clean up outside of my business and keep my corner clean," said Vorosbond.

The rain garden pilot program is just one of the many of City of Tacoma's efforts to keep the storm water clean.

"It's beautiful and has become such a jewel in the redevelopment of Tacoma," said Lorna Mauren with the City of Tacoma. "There was a hundred years of industry and dumping."

It's an economy now thriving from cleaning up Tacoma, not polluting it.

"I think it's all part of a set plan to move Tacoma forward," said Mauren.

Tacoma's efforts in cleaning up the storm water have been getting national and international attention. Portland, Ore., and Venice, Italy, are among those that have been examining Tacoma's system.