Puyallup Green Street

Puyallup has its first Green Street—though for now it’s still called 8th Avenue.

Over the last few years, Stewardship Partners and the 12,000 Rain Garden campaign teamed up with local homeowners to bring rain gardens to the Puyallup community in order to fight polluted stormwater runoff and stop the chronic flooding that occurred on their street. For decades, people living along 8th ave nw in Puyallup, Washington, watched helplessly as their yards and street flooded during heavy rainstorms. With each flood, rivers of runoff tainted with lawn chemicals, car oil, animal waste and other pollutants poured into sewers and area waterways. Working with local authorities and landscape designers, residents installed bioretention cells, and rain gardens, in their yards and along the two-block-long avenue to mitigate the stormwater runoff.

This road had been pocketed with puddles and the asphalt was crumbling at the edges. Now it is pedestrian friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and all of the road’s stormwater is infiltrated on-site!

Photograph provided by Rain Dog Designs

The 8th Avenue project is part of a larger campaign—initiated by Washington State University Extension and the nonprofit Stewardship Partners in Seattle—to build 12,000 rain gardens on private property in the Puget Sound area by the end of 2016.

In Puyallup, the 8th Avenue project encompasses more than 18,000 square feet of porous asphalt roadway, 3,200 square feet of permeable sidewalks, and 11 rain gardens. Thanks to these improvements, 100 percent of the block’s polluted stormwater runoff infiltrates soils and avoids entering storm drains.

“We haven’t had flooding problems since, and the rain garden in our front yard has improved both the appearance and value of our property.”

– Steve Hollis, homeowner

Choosing a green approach saved the city about $100,000, compared to a traditional construction that lacks a mechanism to purify water. Traditional methods would have sent the polluted water to Clarks Creek, from there to the Puyallup River, and eventually into Puget Sound. Not only is Clarks Creek water quality protected (Clarks Creek is home to five species of salmon), but 8th Avenue requires significantly less maintenance now that flooding events have been eliminated.

Residents in the Green Streets neighborhood were key project partners and had shown an early interest in stormwater management through participation in Puyallup’s Rain Garden Program, as seen in this photo.

Photograph provided by Rain Dog Designs

The Green Street structures have proven to be an extremely effective project that has given the community the autonomy to choose the size and scope of their stormwater mitigation impact. Most importantly, the project has shown that green stormwater infrastructure is a financially savvy way of solving the issue of runoff, and with greater communication and collaboration with city government, non-profits, and residents, large projects like 8th Avenue Green Street are possible throughout Puget Sound.

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© Kevin Arnold