The Climate crisis is an ever-pressing global issue. It is important to understand how even our smallest actions can have a huge impact on the planet. In Seattle, where we have 150 days of rain each year, storms can be a real nuisance, but their environmental effects are even worse. The rainwater that’s washed down from our roofs and driveways can carry pollutants that end up in the sewers. It can also cause sewer drains to overflow and erode hillsides and stream banks, causing flooding and natural disasters. But all is not doomed! By simply implementing Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) in your private property, you can contribute to being part of the solution.
What is RainWise?
*Photo of a residential rain cistern*
RainWise is a rebate program created by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division and Seattle Public Utilities to help property owners manage their stormwater by installing cisterns and rain gardens on their property. The program measures can include planting water-absorbing trees, introducing permeable pavements, or digging rock-filled trenches to allow stormwater to soak into the ground rather than end up in our sewer drains. This prevents flooding, adds attractive landscaping, and can provide water for summer irrigation.
The rebate can be up to $4 per square foot of rooftop runoff, and the average rebate is $4,198. Since 2010, RainWise has provided $8.5 million in rebates to property owners!
How to get started?
First, check your eligibility by filling in your address at 700milliongallons.org. Then, find a contractor for the project. You can either find one on your own or contact one of the contractors listed on the RainWise database. The qualifying contractor must attend a three-day RainWise Contractor Orientation and be licensed and bonded. Once you choose your contractor, they will schedule a pre-inspection for approval to build your system. Then, the fun process of building begins! You can work with a contractor to design a RainWise installation that fits your site and your preferences by choosing from a wide range of cisterns and diverse plant options. Finally, a RainWise inspector will confirm that your installation was done properly, and you will be able to submit your rebate package and receive your rebate within 6-8 weeks.
What are the benefits of being RainWise?
The Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center recently featured RainWise as part of the new US Climate Resilience Map. This program allows people from low-income families and underserved communities to make climate-focused choices. The program offers financial resources to help homeowners pay for the upfront costs and smaller out-of-pocket expenses associated with RainWise installations.
RainWise projects mimic nature to capture, slow down, and clean runoff from roofs, paths, and driveways after storms. Unlike pipes and treatment plants that collect and clean runoff after it travels for miles, it uses plants, trees, soil, and engineering to reduce rainwater pollution and overflows in our drainage and sewer systems. It also adds beauty and habitat to the property.
You can find out more information by heading to the King County website.
Do you have a rain garden? Show it off! We would love to see photos or hear about your rain wise journey. Send us a message on social media, or contact us here.