Spokane stormwater project recognized for innovation

The U.S. EPA has recognized the City of Spokane with its PISCES Award for a project that successfully demonstrated innovative stormwater control strategies...

SPOKANE, WA, July 8, 2011 -- The U.S. EPA has recognized the City of Spokane with its PISCES Award for a project that successfully demonstrated innovative stormwater control strategies.

The project was part of the City's Spokane Urban Runoff Greenways Ecosystem, or SURGE project. The City built 28 urban storm garden boxes and installed 386 square yards of porous surfaces that absorb water and allow rain to go directly through the concrete into the soil below. The project replaces traditional curb and gutter systems along one block of West Broadway Avenue from Elm to Oak streets.

Storm gardens function as street side depressions containing planted native vegetation and are designed to capture runoff from impervious surfaces like roofs, streets and parking lots, allowing runoff to naturally be absorbed into the ground, filtering out the pollutants. Pervious surfaces such as porous pavement, porous asphalt, and porous pavers also allow the rain to go directly through these hard surfaces into the soil below.

"The Broadway Avenue SURGE project demonstrates a low cost way to capture, treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff as close to where it falls as possible," said Spokane Mayor Mary Verner. "The storm gardens have enhanced the beauty of Broadway Avenue and improved water quality by reducing the contaminants going to the Spokane River."

The SURGE project demonstrates that these innovative "green" solutions can capture and infiltrate up to 30,000 gallons of rain water from the single city block.

The "Performance and Innovation in the State Revolving Fund Creating Environmental Success" -- or PISCES -- Awards were created in 2005 to recognize the extraordinary successes of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) programs.

Washington's Department of Ecology provided the project with $599,000 in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds through the Revolving Fund program. Half of this amount was 20-year low-interest loan, and half did not have to be paid back (forgivable principle).

"The PISCES Awards highlight successfully designed projects that further the goal of clean and safe water with exceptional planning, management, and financing." said EPA's Bussell. "This project has shown us when city agencies work in partnership with local businesses and residents, the result can be a more effective and less expensive way to deal with stormwater in Eastern Washington."

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