As city planners work on the major goal of preventing untreated water from flowing into the river, an environmental group is overseeing one small part of the solution. The city contracted with the Lands Council to create a storm garden in the Shadle area.
A city construction crew used a rock chipper and other machines to prepare a ditch in front of three Garland Avenue homes. They will fill it in by week’s end, completing the city’s third storm garden. The city installed storm gardens on Broadway Avenue and Lincoln Street in 2010, which treat rain water before it reaches the aquifer. Watershed program director Amanda Parrish says unlike those SURGE projects, this one will use a material called biochar.
Parrish: “The biochar actually filters the storm water of pollutants. Basically we’re having storm water going into these storm gardens and filter, but we don’t’ want to pollute the aquifer any more than we want to pollute the river, so we need something in these storm gardens that’s going to capture and treat those pollutants.”
Biochar is a charcoal used in agriculture, and Parrish says they were able to get it through two Washington companies. That’s just one part of the collaboration involved in these gardens. Parrish and others went door to door a year ago and eventually found three neighbors willing to having a storm garden in front of their homes.
Parrish says the city’s $30,000 contract was much less than the actual project price, because Wittkopf Landscaping, AHBL, and other groups pitched in at no cost.
The storm garden is part of a larger effort to catch and filter storm water before it enters the aquifer or Spokane River. The city is constructing a series of combined sewer overflow (CSO) tanks to catch water before it reaches the Spokane River.
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