Paine Field lawsuit pays for rain gardens

KING 5's Alison Morrow reports.

Construction of rain gardens in Lynnwood is underway thanks to settlement money paid by Snohomish County after a lawsuit over the Clean Water Act.

Paine Field built a parking lot without a permit and activists sued, calling it a violation of the Clean Water Act. The lot sat next to protected wetlands that drain into Swamp Creek and eventually Lake Washington. The airport's owner, Snohomish County, settled for $175,000.

"It's definitely a mitigation tool for the unpermitted work done by the Snohomish County airport, but it's also an educational tool for the neighborhood for other people to see how this works and to encourage other residents to install rain gardens even if they can't get a free one courtesy of Snohomish County," Bill Lider said.

Bill Lider helped spearhead the lawsuit filed by the Sno-King Watershed Council (SKWC). At least 30 rain gardens are planned for neighborhoods in the Swamp Creek watershed.

"The green ones are evergreen. We have some larger shrubs around the outside. In the middle, these are all water tolerant and drought tolerant emergent plants," project coordinator Kathy Anderson said.

Farmer Frog is the contractor on the rain gardens, which could total as many as 40.

"People are so excited about getting rain gardens. They're thrilled they don't have to do all the maintenance and don't have to water a ton and they can get all these beautiful shrubs and flowers and things that stay green all year long. They're super excited," Anderson said.

The rain gardens will naturally filter pollutants from stormwater, but Snohomish County never admitted to wrong doing; it's not the end of SKWC's battle with Paine Field.

"I wish it was, but Paine Field does not seem to have learned its lesson. We are still fighting them on stormwater issues," he said.

The project still has more than a dozen open spots for free rain gardens. Contact Zsofia Pasztor at Farmer Frog zsofia@farmerfrog.org if you're interested in applying for a rain garden.

Rain Garden Application - Swamp Creek Drainage basin by KING 5 News on Scribd

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