Barton Basin CSO: Greener Neighborhood, Cleaner Sound

Project Title: Barton Basin CSO: Greener Neighborhood, Cleaner Sound
Landscape Architect: MIG/SvR
Category: General Design, Public Ownership
Location: West Seattle, WA
Description: Visitors to West Seattle’s Barton Basin immediately sense the impact of the 93 newly-installed roadside rain gardens. Filled with an abundance of plant life and brimming with a bevy of birds and insects, these small-scale gardens have yielded outsized impacts.

Though located almost a mile from the Puget Sound, the rain gardens’ story begins in the waters of America’s third-largest estuary. In 2008, the Washington State Department of Ecology required King County to find a solution to the persistent, perennial discharges of polluted stormwater and untreated sewage from the Barton Pump Station. Averaging four incidents and spewing approximately four million gallons into Puget Sound annually, the discharges sickened marine animals, threatened human health, and closed fisheries.

The upstream roadside rain garden installations diverted polluted runoff from the combined sewer system flowing to the pump station, and provided compelling co-benefits: increased biodiversity, higher property values, safer streets, and a more walkable neighborhood. The project’s success won over skeptical neighbors and has become a model for retrofitting urban neighborhoods to address the Sound’s economic and ecological health.

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