Expanding our Stormwater Management Throughout the Snoqualmie Valley

We all need clean water to survive. We all should know this by now. The salmon we so cherish need clean water to survive as well. We all should know this by now. Our beloved orcas that symbolize our region need clean water and salmon to survive. We should all know this by now. Knowing is the first step, and now is the time to act to ensure that our region has clean water for the orcas, for the salmon and for us for generations to come. For nearly 20 years the Snoqualmie Stewardship program has focused on riparian habitat restoration along the Snoqualmie River and its tributaries. We’ve made a lot of great progress in that regard. As we continue this riparian restoration work, we are also focusing on expanding our efforts, not only by planting trees along the river, but by educating and engaging the public in green stormwater management efforts.

Starting with one small rain garden installation at Carnation Elementary School a few years ago, thanks to King County Flood Control Districts Flood Reduction Fund, we are now leading an effort to educate and connect community members, businesses and organizations in green infrastructure implementation. We are doing this collaboratively as we have all along with partners such as Nature Vision, The Snoqualmie Tribe, Aspect Consulting, King County, the City of Carnation, Full Circle Farm and Orenda Winery. Soon Stewardship Partners will sponsor workshops in Carnation that include educational talks and tools for green stormwater infrastructure implementation including cistern giveaways! We will also be installing a bioswale at Full Circle Farm to treat stormwater and production runoff before it reaches Griffin Creek!           

Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden Installation
Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden Installation

As we quickly approach the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day we urge folks to take action alongside Stewardship Partners and all our friends as we continue to pave the way for innovative restoration of the land and water that sustain us. If your group, school, business or church would like to get involved with a one of our on the ground projects please contact Chris LaPointe at cl@stewardshippartners.org or sign up on the volunteer calendar on our website.      

Tickets are On Sale for the 5th Annual Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit!

It’s hard to believe that we created the first ever Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit 5 whole years ago this month! It seems like yesterday and yet an awful lot has happened in those 5 years. This year we’re proud to again bring together a community of green infrastructure thought leaders from the .com, .org, .gov, and .edu sectors and from every corner of Puget Sound, this time in Tacoma on March 20th, 2020! It’s inspiring and humbling to hear from partners and attendees who credit the summit with catalyzing new projects, partnerships, and strategies to address some of the region’s most pressing and complex problems. Never ones to get stuck in a rut, the green infrastructure summit always touches on a lot more than the stormwater that green infrastructure is typically built to address. Like a rain garden, the reason to attend the summit goes way past one single problem or solution.

Scenes from the inspirational 2019 Summit

At this year’s summit, attendees will hear from professors, youth leaders, agency officials, nonprofits and businesses about the vast array of benefits that green infrastructure can provide. This year’s theme is “Growing green infrastructure: Impacts and Intersectionalities When Scaling Up.” We hope you can join us! Purchase your ticket here.

Stewardship Partners’ 2019 Highlights

Supporters are central to the success of Stewardship Partners and are one of the main reasons why our programs had such a profound positive impact throughout our region this year. By supporting Stewardship Partners, you continue to support a healthy Puget Sound environment.

Your support this year allowed us to:

  • Plant 15,000 native trees and shrubs
  • Restore 2.4 river miles
  • Restore 10.5 acres of vital riparian habitat
  • Engage volunteers in over 2,800 hours of work
  • Grow our Salmon-Safe program to over 100 farms and vineyards
  • Grow our coalition of over 100 green infrastructure partners
  • Host the 2019 Green Infrastructure Summit and begin planning for the 2020 Summit, to be located outside of King County for the first time
  • Provide resources and financial incentives for green infrastructure ($100,000 of incentives awarded to date)
  • Engage in the Seattle Waterfront Project alongside new partners
  • Host the 10th Annual Feast on the Farm, raising over $151,000 in direct support of conservation and restoration initiatives in Puget Sound

THANK YOU FOR BEING A STEWARDSHIP PARTNER!

Make Your End of Year Gift

This season, Patagonia Action Works is matching donations made to their environmental grantees! Now through December 31st, donations made through their site will receive a dollar-for-dollar match! Please help us take advantage of this amazing opportunity by making your year-end gift to Stewardship Partners through Patagonia Action Works! Thank you Patagonia!

You can also give directly through our website. Only together can we fight for clean water, healthy salmon and wildlife habitats, sustainable agriculture, healthy communities, and overall stewardship of our shared environment.

Remembering a Friend of the Salmon – Bill Ruckelshaus

Bill and Governor Gregoire visiting Stewardship Partners rain gardens in Burien (2012)

On behalf of the staff and Board of Stewardship Partners, I am sad to announce the passing today of Bill Ruckelshaus. There are only a few people in the world that worked as hard to recover salmon in our watersheds across the region. The salmon have lost one of their best friends.

Bill had the ability to work with anyone including tribes, businesses, government, farmers and non-profits with integrity and honesty making him a great American hero for the natural environment. His priority was putting the environment before politics or party.

Bill was the first director of the EPA, led the U.S./Canada salmon negotiations, was the chair of Shared Strategy, the first chair of Puget Sound Partnership, and held so many other leadership roles. Bill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2015.

We went fishing together several years ago in the San Juan Islands and I remember Bill telling all of us on the boat that this would probably be one of the last times he goes fishing. Turns out it was, and I feel lucky to have shared that time with him. Bill had many accomplishments and was taller than most but was never intimidating. He was a warm down-to earth person that was willing to listen and give his time, talent and wisdom to what he called “doing the right thing for the fish.”

Bill has been a longtime friend and supporter of Stewardship Partners. We will miss him dearly and our thoughts go out to his family.

Written by David Burger – Stewardship Partners Executive Director

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.

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!

Green Solutions to Stormwater Runoff

By now, you have probably heard that stormwater runoff is a looming threat to our Puget Sound. But the good news is that there are ways we can slow down and filter stormwater runoff, preventing pollutants from making it into our precious bodies of water. This video created by Sightline Institute features our very own Aaron Clark speaking about green infrastructure solutions to polluted stormwater runoff.

Breaking Barriers for GSI Projects

Here at Stewardship Partners we do our best to help get as many green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects in the ground as possible. Unfortunately, while most landowners love the idea of a beautiful rain garden or cistern going in their yard, there are barriers to getting these projects installed. Many great incentive programs exist for installing GSI, like RainWise Rebates, but cost continues to be one of the biggest barriers landowners face.

Newly installed rain garden getting its finishing touches.

We are working hard to address this issue by creating new incentive programs and expanding the financial assistance offered through the RainWise Program. Our recently launched GSI Mini Grants offer up to an additional $1,500 for landowners within the King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) service area that are not eligible for other incentive programs. The goal of the GSI Mini Grant is to help provide both guidance and financial assistance for communities that are in areas of ineligibility for other incentive programs and may otherwise be unable to install GSI projects. Our RainWise Access Grants help income-limited and underserved communities by providing an additional $1,000 for RainWise eligible homeowners and nonprofit community organizations, bridging the gap between the RainWise rebate amount and actual project costs. Without this tool, even relatively small out of pocket costs for GSI projects could pose a barrier to landowners otherwise ready to install GSI on their property.

The creation of these tools comes from actively listening to and discussing with key partners like and community members. With a little out of the box thinking, the Stewardship Partners team was able to create a whole organizational infrastructure that didn’t exist before, all because we listened to communities sharing their experiences and barriers with us. After many tweaks and improvements to both of these tools, we now have Mini Grants and Access Grants flying off the shelves. We have a great sense of pride and gratification knowing we are able to give communities a hand in their work to protect Puget Sound.

You can find out more about these financial tools and other incentive programs at www.12000raingardens.org.