Rain Gardens and Cisterns Make for Good Neighbors

Stone Gossard is featured along with the Orca in a new campaign about grants to property owners. 

A few months ago, Stewardship Partners was awarded a grant to spread the news about incentives  for rain gardens and cisterns in King County. The challenge? To reach those unsure about rain gardens and cisterns or who would like to help the environment but also have other pressing concerns about their property such as water damage, high water bills, or landscaping. The 12,000 Rain Gardens campaign started in 2011, so Stewardship Partners figured that most people who were already primed and ready for a rain garden or a cistern had likely installed one. But what about that next layer of folks? Those for whom it can seem like a financial stretch – but are amenable to taking steps that help their property as well as Puget Sound, provided they can afford it. 

After working with Board members Cal McAllister and Samantha Neukom to identify the opportunity, Stewardship Partners gathered the talents of Merlino Media Group and Northbound to create a media plan and creative campaign to reach property owners in the King County area. Our goal? To let them know that there are grants available that can cover  $4,000 toward installing a rain garden or cistern and that by doing so, they can create a win-win. The first win is improving property: rain gardens can improve drainage, dry out basements and decrease mold, and cisterns can significantly lower summer water bills. Rain gardens can also be a beautiful way to add landscaping to your yard. The second win is that by installing a rain garden or cistern, you’re also helping your human, orca, salmon, and other wildlife neighbors that cohabitate with us here in Puget Sound. 

The creative idea came from a mix of Pacific Northwest quirky attitude with lovable, custom animations of our fauna neighbors, featuring the Orca, the Octopus, and the Salmon. In posters, print ads, and bus side ads, you see our animal neighbors installing their own rain gardens and encouraging us, their human neighbors, to do the same. Radio ads feature Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, a rain garden and cistern owner himself, chatting with his orca, salmon, and octopus neighbors. In one radio ad he notes, “if you want to keep your basement dry and the Sound clean, cisterns and rain gardens are a beautiful way to help.”

Stone Gossard, The Neighbor

Monisa Brown, The Orca

The campaign’s goal is to reach King County residents who may be eligible for one of several grants that could cover up to 100% of the cost of installing a cistern or rain garden and to let them know the multiple benefits of doing so. With a simple click or two at www.rainchangers.org, property owners can check their eligibility and set up a visit from a local certified contractor.   

Check out RainChangers in the news at https://www.seattletimes.com/life/garden/installing-a-rain-garden-you-could-be-eligible-for-a-rebate/

View the press release at https://www.stewardshippartners.org/new-program-offers-free-rain-gardens-and-cisterns/

New Program Offers Free Rain Gardens and Cisterns

Pearl Jam Guitarist Stone Gossard and Local Residents Promote Win-Win Solution to Protect Puget Sound, Reduce Flooding, and Improve Health

SEATTLE – With Spring upon us, a new ad campaign on radios and buses around King County calls on people to become “Rain Changers” by creating rain gardens at their homes and businesses. The best part? The City of Seattle and King County will pick up the bill for eligible properties.

“Rain gardens and cisterns can prevent flooding on your property, keep your basement dry, and protect Puget Sound from pollution,” said Aaron Clark, director of strategic partnerships at Stewardship Partners, which is running the Rain Changers campaign. “With public dollars available, this is a no brainer.”

Every time it rains, stormwater carries pollution from our roofs, driveways and sidewalks into local creeks, and ultimately into Puget Sound. Recent research, for example, found tire dust washed into local streams and the Sound killed 40 to 90 percent of returning coho salmon before they spawn.

One residential rain garden can divert 70-100 percent of the rainwater from a property. If 12,000 homeowners build rain gardens, 160 million gallons of polluted stormwater would be treated, helping to protect the Sound. Rain gardens also keep water out of basements, keeping them dry and preventing unhealthy mold.

Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, who is currently planning his second rain garden, is lending star power to the campaign. In one radio ad he notes, “if you want to keep your basement dry and the Sound clean, cisterns and rain gardens are a beautiful way to help.”

The campaign introduces the Orca, the Salmon, and the Octopus, local residents of Puget Sound who support the use of cisterns and rain gardens to protect their homes. One such project is at Duwamish Co-Housing, where new cisterns are helping to prevent flooding and keep polluted stormwater out of the Duwamish River.

“We were so fortunate to receive three 265-gallon cisterns through a grant from King County,” said Ruth Anne, a neighborhood champion who lives at Duwamish Co-Housing. “So many people could benefit from these cisterns and rain gardens – and help Puget Sound – if only they knew the money was there to pay for them.”

Funding for rain gardens comes from two sources, depending on the property location. RainWise, operated by Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division, offers rebates for projects in eligible drainage basins; the average rebate is $4,200. For properties that are not eligible for RainWise rebates, there are Green Stormwater Infrastructure Mini Grants through Stewardship Partners of up to $1,500 or $4,500 for income-limited people and nonprofits.

Rain gardens make financial sense, as they keep stormwater out of the sewers and reduce infrastructure costs. For example, Seattle Public Utilities estimated that natural drainage systems – like rain gardens – would cost $410,000 per block, compared to $720,000 for traditional infrastructure – a savings of more than 40 percent. To check your eligibility and learn more about the Rain Changers program, visit www.rainchangers.org.

About Stewardship Partners

Stewardship Partners is a nonprofit organization that creates people-based solutions to engage Puget Sound communities as caretakers of land and water. Stewardship Partners was founded over 20 years ago, as Puget Sound was in a steep ecological decline. The organization focuses on the role of private landowners—people with a deep connection to the land and a strong motivation to act as responsible stewards of the ecosystem. Starting with a single farmer in the Snoqualmie River Valley, the organization has grown into a national model for developing effective, people-based solutions and engaging communities as caretakers of the land and water. Its programs include Snoqualmie Stewardship (including Adopt-a-Buffer), Salmon-Safe, and Green Infrastructure (including City Habitats, 12,000 Rain Gardens, Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea and Sound Impacts). More at https://www.stewardshippartners.org/.

I’m a Stewardship Partner Campaign

You may have recently seen the faces of some of our supporters artfully displayed on bus sides and web banners around town. These are part of our new “I’m a Stewardship Partner” public awareness campaign, thanks to the pro-bono hard-work of Jill Marshall and Janice Merlino of Merlino Media Group and Cal McAllister, formerly of Wexley School for Girls.

The campaign features photographs, treated by local artist and musician, Brandon Milner.  These feature a few of our community of supporters expressing how Stewardship Partners helps them become caretakers of our land and water.

In the coming months, this campaign will continue to be featured throughout the Puget Sound region. Look for “I’m a Stewardship Partner,” on billboards, bus sides, on the radio and in digital, print, social media and more.

Read about our partners at: https://www.stewardshippartners.org/im-a-stewardship-partner-campaign/

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.