Rain garden project helps with watershed restoration

May 3, 2012

By Christina Lords

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Proving the idea of a rain garden isn’t limited to individuals, members of the Hazen Earth Service Corps in conjunction with the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed installed Renton’s first rain garden in 2010.

“The idea of a rain garden overall is that it’s manageable all on its own,” Service Corps co-president Maddie Martin said. “The first couple of years we’re just there to make sure it’s draining correctly and that it’s sustainable.”

A rain garden is a depressed planting bed that captures and slows storm water runoff, allowing it to seep into the garden soil while filtering mud and pollutants, such as motor oil and heavy metals, out of the water.

Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, a King County based nonprofit organization that encourages volunteerism through community groups and projects, helped launch the project to address storm water runoff by building rain gardens at Hazen High and other local schools and in the community.

Projects were conducted through the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed in five of the 12 school districts in the Cedar River and Lake Washington watershed.

Kent Coburn, co-president of the Hazen Earth Service Corps, said students maintain the garden by pulling weeds and clearing debris and garbage from the area.

“We do some weeding during the summer and sometimes during the school year, but it’s usually pretty minimal work,” he said.

The group aims to get students involved with various projects throughout their high school career, including volunteerism at events like Newcastle Earth Day, school recycling projects and the rain garden.

About 75 percent of the toxic chemicals entering Puget Sound are carried by storm water that runs off paved roads, parking lots, driveways, rooftops, yards and other developed land, according to the friends group.

The project was funded in part by a King County Waterworks grant, RealNetworks Foundation, The Boeing Co. Charitable Trust, The Klorfine Foundation and The Satterberg Foundation. Cedar Grove Composting donated rain garden construction materials.

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