NEXT ROUND OF RAINGARDENS: Longfellow Creek ‘natural drainage systems’ project launching

(Click for full-size PDF version of map)
If you live in the highlighted areas of eastern West Seattle – this is for you. Seattle Public Utilities is launching the Longfellow Creek “natural drainage systems” project – meant to find ways to keep runoff out of the creek, via raingarden-type installations, among other things. Here’s the announcement we received today, including a survey:

Seattle Public Utilities is working to reduce polluted stormwater runoff from entering the Longfellow basin water system. As part of this effort, we are designing and constructing 7 – 10 blocks of Natural Drainage Systems (NDS) in the Longfellow Creek basin.

SPU is currently working to determine where we can partner with other city departments on related projects and which blocks will be technically feasible for NDS placement. While SPU can only build these systems where it is technically feasible, we would like to incorporate community input into the final decision. (Please see the map for our initial analysis of potentially feasible areas in your neighborhood, where input from the community is needed.)

As part of this effort, SPU is sending a mailing (the attached letter, project brochure, and survey) to residents located on these potentially feasible blocks. We need input from folks who live directly on these project blocks to help inform our final NDS siting decisions. The cutoff for the survey (linked here) is May 26, 2017.

Please feel free to contact Luis Ramirez, project manager, at or 206-684-3660, or April Mills, Line of Business Representative, at or 206-733-9816 for eligibility requirements or our survey outreach approach. Visit our SPU project page for additional information.

As the brochure says, construction is expected to happen in 2019. City and county “natural drainage systems” projects are already in place in other parts of West Seattle including Highland Park, South Delridge, Sunrise Heights, and Westwood.

6 Replies to "NEXT ROUND OF RAINGARDENS: Longfellow Creek 'natural drainage systems' project launching"

  • Buttercup May 5, 2017 (12:05 pm)

    We had these drain gardens put on our street and they are unattractive, only some grasses in them. They are below street level. We told that they would enhance the sea. They don’t look at all like the ones in Sunrise Heights. The project went way over the finish date,  the contractor ran out of money and left the project high and dry for months. Very disappointed in the way it looks.

  • West Coast Nomad May 5, 2017 (6:25 pm)

    When King Country brought this project to Sunrise Heights and Westwood, they called them “bioswales” and then changed the name to rain gardens. Only by getting very engaged did those neighborhoods get a decent outcome. If you live in the Longfellow Creek area slated for this new project, you’ll want to educate yourself, get involved and push back hard if needed to avoid ending up with deep, unsafe and unsightly ditches in front of your house with a few sparse grasses (truly sorry to hear yours didn’t turn out well, Buttercup). Check out what happened when the city brought this project to Ballard: and here’s the website of concerned Sunrise Heights and Westwood neighbors for their project:

  • nachobeaver May 5, 2017 (6:48 pm)

    ya look at the rain gardens on 17th “the greenway” hahaha that project was a catastorphy!! the contractor went on strike for like over 6 months totalled 2 of the neighbors cars with there tractor and then one of the workers decided to get high and drive his car through a fence and almost killed 2 kids playing in the frontyard!! All the plants in em are bairly living and it always smells like sewage on hot days way to go city of seattle😡another fine waste of tax money

  • dcn May 5, 2017 (7:24 pm)

    My street is on the map as a potential site for the next round. I am ambivalent right now. I see the need, and I’ve seen some rain gardens turn out well. I worry about long-term maintenance by the city (like what happens if plants die during summer droughts?). And I wonder if there are any potential negative consequences to the surrounding land (and land downhill) for all that water that is redirected underground at point sources like the drains in the bioswales. 

    I was surprised to see my street on the map, though, since there are bioswales 2 blocks uphill from me, and because the city said my property didn’t qualify for the Rainwise program when I looked into that last year.

    I will keep an open mind and stay engaged in the process.

  • Joan May 5, 2017 (7:44 pm)

    Sorry to hear about all the bad experiences with rain gardens. I walk through High Point frequently and they have some wonderful, plant-filled rain gardens. They are an excellent way to help filter runoff before it reaches Puget  Sound. When they are done correctly! But not everyone can have them. My street, for example, has no curbs, sidewalks or parking strips, so I don’t see how we could do it.

  • avie May 5, 2017 (10:14 pm)

     Well, if this is what they did up on 25th Ave SW a few years ago, it looks great and really improved the quality and character of the street.  It also added some much needed curbs. 

    We need all the drainage help we can get.  Looking forward to it.

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