SEATTLE - During extremely heavy rains, parts of Seattle's older sewer system overflow sends untreated human sewage into Puget Sound or nearby lakes. The Federal Government ordered Seattle to fix its aging Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system, and if you want to help out, there may be some money in it for you.
"Install a rain garden or cistern, and we will give you a rebate for 80 to 100 percent of the purchase price," said Bob Spencer, Director of Seattle Public Utilities' Residential RainWise Program.
The round, oval, or kidney-shaped gardens only need to be about 6 feet across and about 1 foot deep. They drain too quickly for mosquitoes, other bugs or germs to breed, but slow enough to give the older sewers a break during heavy rains.
They require specific soils, gravel and native plants and in time grow over into a pleasant and functional landscape feature. The test program which will be officially announced in a few weeks is currently available only to some Ballard residents.
You can plug your address into a program on the City's RainWise Web site at https://rainwise.seattle.gov to see if you qualify and get advice on how to construct your own rain garden.