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Adopt a Rain Garden, or Grow Your Own
A new program to promote rain gardens in Tacoma goes before the City Council this evening. The program would offer rebates and other incentives to encourage citizens to install rain gardens of their own, or adopt one of the increasing number of City-owned rain gardens.
Rain gardens (the sexier, and easier to remember name for "biofiltration swales") are a Low Impact Design technique designed to increase stormwater infiltration and decrease runoff by funneling rainwater through specially designed structures and plantings, which are designed to absorb runoff, reducing the amount of pollution that enters a water supply.
Adopt a rain garden.
The number of City-owned rain gardens has increased significantly with projects like the Pacific Avenue streetscape project. The proposed program would offer an adopt-a-rain garden component that would put businesses and citizens in charge of maintenance in exchange for a rate break.
Major maintenance would still be provided by the City, but adopters would be responsible for basic maintenance and litter pick up, and would be "eyes in the field" for signs of vandalism and erosion. The City would provide signage, gloves, and training and up to a one category rate reduction.
The Downtown Merchants Group has already stepped up with an offer to help with the 14 new rain gardens created as part of the Pacific Avenue project. That would leave 11 more available for adoption at this time.
Grow your own.
The proposed pilot program would focus on the Flett and Leach watersheds, giving residents in those areas a rebate of $2 for every square foot of rain garden, up to a maximum of $2,000. The homeowner woud be expected to maintain the garden for a minimum number of years. Residents of other watersheds would have access to design assistance and soil testing resources.
Staff estimates the cost of the program to the surface water utility will be $90,000 for the 2013-2014 biennium. It is a a requirement of Tacoma's Municipal Stormwater permit requires the City to encourage Low Impact Development practices like rain gardens.
If approved, the adopt a rain garden project would kick off this fall with the completion of the Pac Ave improvements. The pilot program would continue through December 2014, followed by stakeholder outreach to improve the program, and make it permanent.
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