Reducing runoff pollution: Sustainable West Seattle’s new grant

(WSB photo from Day 2 of West Seattle Summer Fest, 7/9/11)
A month ago at West Seattle Summer Fest, we took that photo of Sustainable West Seattle‘s Cate White talking about ways to reduce toxic runoff – a top pollution problem in Puget Sound. Tonight, SWS has announced a grant that will help them educate even more community members about how to reduce the problem. Here’s the full text of their announcement:

Sustainable West Seattle has been awarded a $20,000 grant from The Russell Family Foundation to help community members restore Puget Sound.

The group will be building an in-depth community outreach program aimed at helping educate local citizens about the sources of toxic runoff in the West Seattle area. Toxic runoff from sealed surfaces such as paved streets, sidewalks and rooftops is the number one source of toxins entering Puget Sound each year. Pollutants include motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, grease, paint, heavy metals and dog poop. This toxic mix threatens human health, the economic vitality of the region, and the survivability of the Sound’s most emblematic species: salmon and orcas.

The grant from The Russell Family Foundation will enable Sustainable West Seattle’s volunteers to teach hundreds of our neighbors about simple actions they can take to reverse the damage to Puget Sound and restore it to health.

“We think once the public becomes more aware of how much toxic runoff enters our local waters each year, they will be motivated to take very simple steps to help reverse this damage,” said Cate White, Sustainable West Seattle Board Member and leader of the toxic runoff grassroots team.

Sustainable West Seattle will be scheduling presentations at several West Seattle Community Centers. At each presentation $1,000 in prizes will be raffled to audience members who pledge to personal actions to reduce polluted runoff. Prizes will include water cisterns, organic compost, native plants, car wash certificates, bus passes, and more!

If you are interested in having Sustainable West Seattle visit your church, synagogue, or other community center, please contact Events will be scheduled for late summer through the autumn.

9 Replies to "Reducing runoff pollution: Sustainable West Seattle's new grant"

  • JimmyG August 8, 2011 (9:58 am)

    One easy way to help is don’t support the parking lot charity fund raiser car washes that we see held all over WS.
    Corrosive and toxic substances get deposited on streets and highways and end up on cars and trucks.
    Wastewater from parking lot and driveway car washes containing toxic hydrocarbons, oil, grease, and other suspended solids like brake dust, often flow directly into storm drains intended for rainwater.
    These substances can then eventually end up in our rivers, lakes, and other waterways, potentially harming or even killing fish and other aquatic life.

  • DP August 8, 2011 (10:11 am)

    How could a wonderful story like this have no comments? I’m putting a stop to that right now.

    Good karma, Sustainable West Seattle. May you all live long enough to hear your great-great-grandchildren say thank you.

  • Mike August 8, 2011 (12:55 pm)

    JimmyG, it’s actually better if people do it at those car wash fund raisers since it does go into the storm drain and is treated. I’m more concerned with the mining of minerals for hybrid car batteries than I am about car washes.

  • Dan August 8, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    Mike, usually storm drains do not go to water treatment plants, for during storm events it would inundate our plants which are used to treat sewage. Unfortunately, all of that soap and toxic material usually ends up right in Puget Sound – where every two years the amount of oil entering it from cars is equivalent to an Exxon-Valdez spill in volume. The best place to wash a car is on your lawn for it can act like a rain garden and filter out the toxics from the water.

  • Chris August 8, 2011 (3:42 pm)

    Actually, the best place to get your car cleaned is at a commercial carwash, according to Seattle Public Utilities. Most not only reuse water, but send the water away for treatment.

    Charities should consider using discounted carwash tickets to raise money, or host an event at a location that sends water for treatment. In our West Seattle, SPU suggests West Seattle Produce Market on 4721 Fauntleroy Way SW.

    All this info and more is available by searching for “carwash” at

  • Mike August 8, 2011 (5:35 pm)

    Dan “Puget Sound – where every two years the amount of oil entering it from cars is equivalent to an Exxon-Valdez spill in volume” is flat out not true, sorry.. gotta call you out on that. I don’t think you recognize the amount of oil that Valdez spill was. If that was the case, we’d have the issue that is still occurring to this day up there… they still have that oil sludge at the beach, it’s not gone.
    Also, here’s the official info from King County for charity car washes:

    • WSB August 8, 2011 (5:52 pm)

      Thanks, Mike – I’ve been crazy busy all day but did want to mention the car-wash kits. Just so folks know they don’t necessarily have to eschew all charity car washes – many do use the “fish-friendly” kits … with government funding cuts, there are so many programs that are left to their own devices, and they don’t have many options – it’s wash cars or sell something sugary … Also, there are some businesses – among them, WSB sponsor Swedish Automotive – that have special car washing setups that divert/recycle the water – and you might find a charity car wash there now and then – the key, I think, is awareness-raising, and question-asking … TR

  • John August 9, 2011 (2:57 pm)

    Interesting links about the kits. Seems like visiting or getting hosted by a car-wash might be easier and safer though. I don’t want to think about about a 12 year-old falling into stormdrain while trying to install one of those kits/ lift off a storm drain cover.

    Also, here are the actual numbers about oil entering Puget Sound:

  • Justine Asohmbom August 15, 2011 (10:24 am)

    This is great. I am happy we have a partner in this effort. Check out the Department of Ecology’s interactive online pledge. The Protect Our Waters Pledge describes 10 simple actions that can make a difference for our waters. You can find which watershed you live in, learn about your drainage basin, and pledge to protect our waters. You can print a personalized Pledge Certificate.
    A quick introductory video explains what the pledge is about. It also invites people to submit pictures, videos or stories that show what they do to protect Washington waters.

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