Are all those rain gardens out there working?

Volunteers assessing a rain garden.

While there is little doubt that rain gardens are effective tools in managing stormwater and runoff in general, we’ve wanted to track how real-world rain gardens fair over time and geography since we started the 12,000 Rain Garden Campaign back in 2011. As it turns out, local governments across Western Washington want to know how they are doing as well.

In February, Stewardship Partners, WSU Jefferson, Thurston, and Snohomish Extensions, and the City of Puyallup wrapped up a 3-year project to develop an easy to use assessment protocol for rain gardens and “bioretention facilities” (more highly engineered rain gardens). Funded by the Stormwater Action Monitoring (SAM) program that manages pooled resources from Western Washington local governments, over 80 volunteers and 40 sites across 4 counties were involved in this study. The primary goal of this project was to create an assessment tool that would make it easier for every community to assess their own rain gardens, streamlining and standardizing the data being collected so we can learn about general trends and improve rain garden design and maintenance strategies.

(Photo courtesy: Resource Media)

It was encouraging to analyze data from across these far-flung rain gardens and learn that by and large, real world rain gardens work, work well and are well-liked by the people who own them. The assessment protocol is available now on the SAM website and will be shared nationally as well: https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Reporting-requirements/Stormwater-monitoring/Stormwater-Action-Monitoring/SAM-effectiveness-studies


Did you know we are halfway to our goal?

In 2011 we set out on a mission to identify and register 12,000 rain garden projects throughout Puget Sound. And we are happy to announce that we are officially half way to that goal! Community groups and local jurisdictions across the region have worked with us to register their rain gardens through 12000raingardens.org and soundimpacts.org, officially totaling 6,202 projects!

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