Demand for Green Infrastructure Grants Grows

All around Puget Sound and the nation, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is being touted as a multi-benefit solution to stormwater pollution, sewer overflows, and flooding. In an area like ours that often has enough rainy days to test the resolve of even the most loyal Seattleites, GSI has the power to manage our stormwater in ways that mimic the natural environment, while providing communities with health, social, and economic benefits. Now more than ever, we are seeing a pattern of landowners looking to help protect our Puget Sound and manage stormwater on their property through installations of rain gardens, cisterns, green roofs, and more. While these projects do come with huge benefits, unfortunately they do not come cost free. There are many great incentive programs for installing GSI, such as RainWise Rebates, but cost continues to be one of the biggest barriers landowners face. Stewardship Partners has worked hard to tackle this issue head on, by creating incentive programs that work with the successful RainWise program and also provide assistance to landowners not eligible for RainWise Rebates or other programs. Through our GSI Mini Grants and RainWise Access Grants, we strive to provide a necessary resource when even relatively small out of pocket costs for GSI projects could pose a barrier to landowners otherwise ready and excited to install GSI on their property.

Cisterns outside of Young’s Restaurant in the South Delridge neighborhood

We developed these tools through active discussion with community members and community-based organizations like ECOSS, and after many revisions of Access and GSI Mini Grants, we have delivered two very successful incentive programs to the community. A huge part of what we define as “successful” is having as easy and streamlined a process as possible for the landowner or project contractor to apply for and receive grant funding. We are happy to report that in the last few years we have seen rising demand for Access and GSI Mini Grants, with funding flying out the door! So much so, that after helping to fund 65 GSI projects in the greater Puget Sound, we have fully expended our current funding for these programs. We are actively seeking additional funding to continue these incentive programs and hope to hear good news in the near future. But we must admit, sitting here waiting to hopefully receive more funding to keep this work going is tough! It does, however, give us the chance to take a step back and look at what these programs have accomplished and who they have helped.

Over the course of four years, from 2015 to 2019, our Access and GSI Mini Grants supported a total of 65 projects, stretching from Bothell down to Kent. Green infrastructure is known for being hard working, and these projects are no exception, managing an estimated total of 2.7 million gallons of stormwater per year. That is a big chunk of polluted stormwater runoff which is no longer a direct threat to the health of Puget Sound! Another exciting opportunity that came as we developed these incentives was being able to provide a financial tool specifically to income qualified individuals and nonprofits. In 2018, we revised the GSI Mini Grant guidelines and eligibility to allow for mini grants that were a little less mini. We brought the maximum award up to $4,500, for income-qualified and nonprofit applicants; tripling the previous maximum. This update came as a result of community and partner feedback on how to make these grants more equitable. Our funder (King County)’s flexibility and responsiveness to community input demonstrated commitment to equity and social justice and its integration into all programs, making them a perfectly suited funder of this work. Of the 65 total projects awarded, we are happy to say that 43 grants went to either income qualified individuals or nonprofit applicants! Allowing larger grants for income qualified individuals and nonprofits also created a window of opportunity for contractors. Once a greater portion of the project could be covered through a GSI Mini Grant or RainWise Access Grant, there is less of a barrier to landowners interested in GSI on their property. Eligible landowners may be able to install larger projects with greater stormwater benefits and often turn to a contractor for assistance. One local contractor that has benefited from the increased funding for these projects is Giang Nguyen; read about his experience!

“Tôi luôn muốn có cái gì đó để đựng nước mưa để tôi có thể tiết kiệm lượng nước sử dụng. Tôi vui mừng khi bạn tôi nói với tôi về chương trình gắn bồn chứa nước mưa này. Tôi đã liên lạc với nhà thầu và được cho biết rằng tôi có đủ điều kiện nhận được khoản tài trợ cho người có thu nhập thấp. Tôi rất hài lòng với nhà thầu Giang Nguyễn và công việc gắn bồn chứa nước mưa. Anh ấy đã dạy tôi tại sao phải làm chậm dòng chảy nước mưa và giảm số lượng nước mưa trong cống thoát nước mưa. Tôi luôn nghĩ những cống thoát nước mưa mà chúng ta nhìn thấy trên đường phố được chảy vào trung tâm xử lý nước thải.”


“I have always wanted something to capture the rainwater so I can conserve water usage on my bill. I’m glad my friend told me about this cistern installation program. I have contacted the contractor and learned that I’m qualified for the low income grant funding. I am happy with the contractor Giang Nguyen and his work on the installation. He has taught me why it is important to slow and reduce rainwater in the storm drain. I have always thought those drains we see on the street are going into a water treatment center.”

– Qui Nguyen, Mini Grant Recipient

Contractor Giang Nguyen’s Mini-Grant Experience

Wriiten by ECOSS Staff

Contractor, Giang Nguyen

Giang Nguyen has been a RainWise contractor for 8 months, installing cisterns in the Vietnamese community and running a landscaping business. After receiving RainWise training in the fall of 2018, Giang completed his first RainWise cistern installation. The Vietnamese homeowner was so happy that they spread the word about the RainWise program, leading to many new clients for Giang from just this one homeowner. Many clients were not located in a RainWise-eligible basin, so Giang was happy and grateful for the Mini-Grant fund that helped pay some or all of the homeowners’ installation costs. Without the Mini-Grant funding, Giang believes many community members wouldn’t be willing to pay out of pocket for installations. Giang has also contacted his existing landscaping clients for potential cistern installations and to educate them on why it is important to slow and reduce the amount of rain water going into the storm drain and sewer system. When Giang learned that the Mini-Grant funding ran out, he felt sad.

Giang would like to say to the funders, “Please continue to fund the Mini-Grant program because there are lots of people in my community who are moving away from Seattle and live in a cheaper area who really want to capture their rainwater for gardening and are willing to disconnect the downspout to go into their lawn. The Mini-Grant has made my landscaping business grow financially and knowing more people who I have not met before expanded the potential landscaping work. I love the simple Mini-Grant paperwork process and I get paid faster, which is so important when I have to upfront the cost for the installation. Also, there is no W-9 form for the homeowner, which makes it easier and reduce the burden and stress on the homeowner when they should not have to worry about their income tax later on. That is why I was able to complete more installations through the Mini-Grant program than the RainWise program, and I do hope that the RainWise Program will eventually be as easy as Mini-Grant in the future.”

The Mini-Grant has been critical for Giang’s business, helped residents in King County learn about stormwater pollution and provided financial support for homeowners and home renters. Giang’s experience shows why more funding for Mini-Grants is vital.

Snoqualmie Strategy: Greening the Valley for Generations to Come

Picking Pumpkins at Fall City Farms, Fall City, Washington, US

Stewardship Partners’ Snoqualmie Strategy efforts continue to make a positive impact in the Snoqualmie Valley with our collaborative approach to conservation and sustainability. It’s been several years since a stakeholder suggested the lofty goal of “building rain gardens in all Snoqualmie Valley schools” at a Green Infrastructure working group session. With a coordinated effort involving multiple partners (The Snoqualmie Tribe, Nature Vision, and Aspect Consulting to name a few) we’ve started to fulfill that vision by installing one rain garden at Carnation Elementary School, with a second one planned for installation in the years to come. With continued support from the Bullitt Foundation, and most recently a King County Flood Control District Flood Reduction Grant, we are leading the charge from gray to green infrastructure.

The Full Circle Farm Demonstration Rain Garden and Carnation Green Infrastructure Integration project is another multi-partner project with a wider reach. It will tie together several efforts throughout the Valley with valued partners who are investing in both a viable economy and an environmentally sustainable future. Our friends at Full Circle Farm will continue their stellar farming and land stewardship practices by installing a large rain garden/bioswale to treat stormwater and agricultural runoff . This project is proposed right next to some of our riparian restoration efforts along Griffin Creek, allowing us to see the full extent of our work at this incredible site. Full Circle Farm will be the first farm in the Snoqualmie Valley that Stewardship Partners will work with to install green infrastructure features!

In addition, we will work with our new partners at Orenda Winery, strategically located across the highway from Full Circle, to perform a green infrastructure assessment in order to help them continue their dedication to sustainable land use practices. We will also work with the City of Carnation to inventory green infrastructure features and provide technical support for future green infrastructure installations as the city makes infrastructure upgrades as a result of increased flooding and other pressures due to ongoing development.

These are just a few examples of how the Snoqualmie Strategy continues to engage local stakeholders in a collaborative and innovative manner. Only by working together and taking action can we ensure future generations have clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink and plenty of healthy local food to eat.

Welcome Bob Manelski to the Stewardship Partners Board!

Bob Manelski is Director of Manufacturing for the 787 in Everett, WA. In this role, he is responsible for providing leadership and direction for 787 manufacturing operations on the Everett site. Prior to this, he served the 787 program as leader of Business Operations, with responsibility for business operations as well as program planning and control. Manelski was previously the Director of Business Operations for the Fabrication division. He also served as the Director of the Electrical Systems Responsibility Center, a Boeing Fabrication business unit.

A 31 year veteran of Boeing, Bob has held a wide variety of assignments and traveled extensively while working directly with customers. Other assignments include: Director of Crew Information Services for Commercial Airplanes, Director of Boeing’s Operations Center, Commercial Airplanes chief mechanic; Manager of Airplane Systems Technical Services, 747-400 Field Service; 777 design engineering; and Service engineering.

Bob has been married to Deanna for 24 years and they have two teenage daughters.

Eco-Friendly Tips for Decluttering and Cleaning

Having a home that is free from clutter is important. However, having an environment that is free from pollution is even more important. So, if you have plans to declutter and tidy up your home in the future, make sure the methods you use are as good for you as they are for the planet. To help you stay green, here are a few earth-friendly cleaning and tidying tips.

Clean With the Right Supplies

Decluttering can be a chore. So, once you’re finished, you will definitely want to have some eco-friendly cleaning supplies to help keep your home sparkling. You can use green cleaning products that won’t harm the environment, or you can use DIY cleaners made from simple ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda. You should also aim to buy reusable cleaning supplies. For instance, investing in a top-rated vacuum can make your cleaning efforts less wasteful than using disposable sweeper pads. A quality vacuum is useful if you have pets because certain vacuums do especially well at removing pet hair from furniture and hard-to-reach places. 

Recycle or Sell What You Can

As an eco-conscious consumer, you may already be recycling cans, bottles, and plastics. But if you are decluttering your home, you will need to take care when handling larger items. If you set furniture or large appliances on your curb, chances are they will end up being picked up and disposed of in already harmful landfills. These trash collectives not only create an environment eyesore, but they also pollute our air and water resources with large amounts of plastic and potentially harmful chemicals. Look for eco-friendlier appliance recycling options instead. Many local retailers offer recycling services free with an appliance purchase, or you may need to arrange a recycling pickup with a utility provider. You can also sell your used items, which as Gumtree notes not only earns you some money, but also helps reduce landfill waste. Selling unwanted items means you take part in the second-hand economy, and you can choose to sell online, at a garage sale, or donate the items.

Cut Out Your Paper Waste

Appliances are not the only clutter that can end up in landfills. If you have tons of paper documents and photos around your home, and you want to get rid of them, you may have a hard time recycling responsibly. Chances are, you will want to shred these papers before you put them in your recycling bin, but many municipal recycling centers cannot accept shredded mixed-use paper. A better option is to put a stop to your paper waste. Give any old photos away and discard documents as needed. Then, make a commitment to using cloud storage solutions for your future photo and document needs. Cloud storage has less of an impact on the environment and is a much safer method for preserving your memories.

Reduce Your Reliance on Plastics

Once you have your photos sorted out and scanned into a cloud, you may wonder what to do with the extras you want to keep. Well, before you go out and purchase those popular plastic storage bins, you should know how much of an impact they can have on the environment. Our planet is being suffocated by plastic, and purchasing plastic products is contributing to the problem. Even using plastic garbage bags for your decluttering trash can be severely damaging to the environment. So, as you clean up and organize your home, consider cleaning up your plastic habits in the process. Opt for metal or glass storage solutions as you tidy up your cabinets, rather than plastic. You can also just leave the bag out of your garbage bin for a small way to make a major difference in your plastic consumption.

Decluttering your home can be good for your soul. However, it doesn’t have to be bad for the environment. With a few small tweaks, you can make your cleaning routine easier for you and more eco-friendly for the world around you.

Photo Credit: Pexels
Author: Alice Robertson

Celebrating Orca Recovery with a Splash

2019 has been a big year already for salmon and orcas, with all four orca recovery bills passing the state house and senate! These bills, focused on habitat protection, vessel and noise disturbance, toxic pollution, and oil spill prevention, are a huge step forward to address the threats faced by our Southern Resident Orca population.

To celebrate these wins, Stewardship Partners participated in the Salish Splash!, a Puget Sound wide event on June 13th encouraging everyone to challenge their friends and family to take a plunge, raising awareness about these successes but also the work still needed to be done.

Sal the Salmon, who was challenged by Executive Director David Burger, was so happy to be a part of the day at Golden Gardens surrounded by so many great partners and community members doing their part for salmon and orca recovery!

Learn about the many different ways you can take action and support the recovery of salmon and orca populations!

Assessing and Monitoring Rain Gardens

We are proud to share the final product of a 3 year collaboration between Stewardship Partners, WSU and the City of Puyallup (with funding from the Stormwater Action Network). This assessment protocol is helping us all find out what is working and what isn’t in rain gardens across the region and what priority maintenance issues to plan for.

Want to asses rain gardens of your own or in your community? Check out the protocol, instructions, and helpful resources here: https://extension.wsu.edu/raingarden/monitoring-rain-gardens/


Learn about SAM studies on how well bioretention treats and reduces stormwater runoff:

Win Tickets to the Sold Out Feast on the Farm!

The Stewardship Partners team is keeping busy as we get closer to this year’s Feast on the Farm! As all the details come together, we can’t help but get excited for what will be our best Feast yet!

The menu is being planned by our amazing chefs Branden Karow of Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Jason Stoneburner of Stoneburner, Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi, and Brendan McGill of Hitchcock, and our wine pairings from Erath and Chateau Ste Michelle have been picked.

While this event is SOLD OUT, there’s still a chance to score a pair of tickets!  Along with Chateau Ste Michelle, we are giving away 2 tickets to Feast on the Farm! If you, your friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors weren’t able to purchase tickets, share this opportunity to win!

Anyone interested in attending this year can also sign up for our waitlist here.


Top 10 reasons to attend Feast on the Farm:

10) Test your corn hole skills.
9) Fill your cup with local, sustainable wine.
8) Settle in on a haystack to incredible live music.
7) Take home fresh, sustainable produce.
6) Raise your paddle to win a weekend getaway in the San Juans.
5) Feast on food prepared by local chefs.
4) Break-bread with like-minded community members.
3) Immerse yourself in a world of sustainability.
2) Support conservation and restoration right here in the Seattle region.
1) Celebrate a decade of feasting around the table together.


Thank you to our 2019 sponsors!

Host Sponsors

 

 

Acre Sponsors

 

 

 

 

Field Sponsors

Garden Plot Sponsors

 

 

In-Kind Sponsors

 

Christopher Bayley Jonathan Moulton
Barbie Snapp David Burger

 

Thank you to our 2019 Sponsors

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!

It’s a Wrap: the 4th Annual Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit

On February 7th, the forecast was dire. Snow-pocolypse was imminent. Stewardship Partner’s marquee professional event of the year, the Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit, was scheduled for the next day. Food had been prepared and purchased, 250 people registered, 40 speakers confirmed, agendas printed, cars packed to the gills, but the choice was clear, we had to reschedule and let everyone know immediately to make sure none of our partners would be in harm’s way from what ended up being a multi-week winter storm across the region.

Attendees participating in one of the challenge topics. (Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy)

Flash forward six weeks as 260 people arrive at Cascadia College’s Salmon-Safe certified campus and begin to connect and reconnect with fellow Green Infrastructure leaders from the whole Puget Sound region and from each of the four sectors (connecting the dots: .com, .gov, .org, and .edu). It couldn’t have been a more uplifting contrast. The sun was out, and virtually every speaker was able to reschedule for the new date of March 22.

And what an amazing event we had! We grounded ourselves in a history of human relationships to land, water, fish, trees, and whales that dates back 10,000 years to the last ice age, and we consciously chose to create a learning and collaborative community. We applauded the ways that many redevelopment efforts are adding density and jobs while simultaneously reversing negative environmental impacts and we dove deep into the sticky issue of how we are going to retrofit a century’s worth of hardscaping to treat our wealth of rain like the vital resource it is.

Youth Voices panel participants. (Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy)

Our attendees were challenged to make this emerging and growing field a source of good jobs and education for the passionate and increasingly diverse generation entering today’s job market who don’t see themselves reflected in our ranks nor see pathways to change that fact. We laid out 16 challenge topics to network and build coalitions around, and 6 breakout sessions to dive deeper into specific hot topics related to retrofits and voluntary green stormwater infrastructure.

There is no way to summarize just how hopeful and meaningful of a day it was, but when co-chair of the Orca Task Force, Stephanie Solien, took the stage at the end of the day to call us to action, it was so great to hear her say that it was in fact she who felt called to action by the summit and the amazing group of doers who showed up and  take action every day. I think that sentiment was shared by all and is the reason that we are already looking forward to the 5th Annual Green Infrastructure Summit in 2020. And maybe we’ll stick with late March instead of February! Huge thanks to the amazing team at SP, truly all hands were on deck, plus our brilliant host committee and generous sponsors, volunteers, and all those people who adjusted their calendars to make it work.


Thank you to our 2019 Host Committee Members & Sponsors who helped make this event a huge success!