Reducing the Impacts of Runoff
Stormwater management is a cost-effective method of managing the effects of wet weather on flooding and water quality within developed areas. Surfaces such as asphalt and concrete are impervious – they do not allow water to soak into the ground.
Stormwater flows across impervious surfaces, picking up pollutants, such as oil and anti-freeze, and carries these toxins into storm drains that feed directly into local streams like Johnson Creek. More importantly, scientists are discovering that the pollution coming from parking lots, roads, and highways can be highly toxic to Coho and other salmonids.
Reducing the amount of impervious surfaces is a great way to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff. Adding green infrastructure can improve Johnson Creek’s water quality, reduce toxic runoff, and alleviate flooding.
The Johnson Creek Watershed Council is partnering with local businesses, churches, and schools to promote sustainable practices in our community. We can help design and build green infrastructure projects that will reduce local flooding and improve the water quality entering our local streams. By working together, we hope to engage communities in environmental conservation by protecting public health within the watershed.
Stormwater Outfalls in the Johnson Creek Watershed
The Johnson Creek Watershed Council conducted an extensive examination of all the pipes carrying stormwater into Johnson Creek. Stormwater outfalls are basically the ends of those series of pipes – the points where municipal storm sewer systems discharge into the creek. Our purpose was to map the pipesheds associated with stormwater outfalls, and then inventory and prioritize potentially impactful sources of stormwater coming from commercial and industrial land uses and develop collaborations and partnerships with landowners to address those sources.
A pipeshed is analogous to a watershed – it consists of the buildings, parking lots, roads, and sewers all leading into a single stormwater outfall. We discovered that some pipesheds drain huge areas, sometimes from a single landowner, sometimes from a cluster of buildings, and other times from a variety of locations that may be miles from the creek itself!
Today, storm water control measures are required for new construction, but a significant portion of our water quality issues stem from buildings and parking lots constructed before these requirements were put in place. However, stormwater best management practices – like green infrastructure – can be retrofit to clean up stormwater runoff on existing developments that do not have other measures in place. Not only can retrofits protect Johnson Creek from harmful pollutants, they can save landowners money!
Green infrastructure can take a variety of forms. Replacing impervious surfaces with rain gardens and directing stormwater flow can have a big impact at a relatively low cost. We will meet with you to outline your priorities for the project and make decisions about design and implementation. To remove impervious pavement, Johnson Creek Watershed Council contracts with Depave, another nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming over-paved places and urban re-greening.
If your business, school, or church is interested in investing in its own green infrastructure project, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council can help. As your project partner, we may be able to contribute a portion of the project funding, assist with project permitting as needed, and facilitate communication with engineers and contractors. We also work with a large network of volunteers to help keep costs down and build community. In addition, we can help with publicity surrounding the project, promoting your positive stormwater efforts through our newsletter, e-Bulletin, and website.
Benefits of Green Infrastructure
- Implements long-term, low-cost stormwater management
- Decreases likelihood of onsite flooding
- Potentially reduces stormwater fees
- Demonstrates your commitment to environmental stewardship
- Demonstrates community involvement and support for Johnson Creek
- Improves water quality and water supply
- Protects wildlife habitat and biodiversity
In addition, green infrastructure projects can be used as outdoor classrooms and teach students about the environment and sustainability.
Although funding may be available for many stormwater retrofits, we typically ask businesses to contribute a portion of the project funding. Clean River Rewards is a financial incentive for keeping rainwater out of sewer and stormwater pipes – a discount on the on-site stormwater charges of your bill. Use their calculator to determine how much you can save by installing green infrastructure on your commercial property.
Elizabeth Brosig, Restoration Project Manager
Stormwater Management Demonstration Sites
A Project Partnership with St. Mary Ethiopian Church
St. Mary Ethiopian Church, located in Lents neighborhood just off of 92nd, was struggling with regular flooding each the winter from heavy rain. In 2013, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council worked with Depave to mitigate the problem, removing 2,400 square feet of concrete and planting a rain garden. This partnership solved the building’s flooding issue, and with the Clean River Rewards program, the church’s monthly stormwater bill was reduced by 78 percent!