Drain, drain, don't go away
Flooding from heavy rain and pollution from improperly disposed materials have combined to create a dirty Elliott Bay. Here's how you can help.
Sunday, January 23, 2011 - 17:25
Many Seattleites have probably seen the murky, brown water that we call Elliott Bay. The recent heavy rainfall has inundated the Green/Duwamish watershed. Couple that with the Howard Hanson Dam spilling water due to high levels at its reservoir, and you'll understand the lovely brown and murky layer that covers the bay.
The effects of the murky water were seen at the Seattle Aquarium as I volunteered there recently. The Outer Coast exhibit cleared up pretty quickly due to the replication of moving tides every 30 seconds, while the Inland Seas exhibit took a while to clear up given its slower moving water system. For most of its exhibits, the aquarium uses the water right out of the Puget Sound after it goes through a lengthy filtration system.
Rain and run-off are unavoidable in the Northwest — especially the rain part — but there are ways to lessen the impact of run-off. We have all seen the "Puget Sound Starts Here" around drains through many parts of the city which are actually placed by an organization of the same name. The organization is a partnership of government organizations around the region dedicated to improving water quality.
One way concerned citizens can help is to "adopt" a drain, such as the Adopt-A-Drain program that the City of Seattle runs. It's an easy endeavor in which you and fellow volunteers care for your adopted drain by making sure it is clear of debris, helping prevent flooding and improving water quality for the city and the ecosystem as a whole. The city won't leave you in a lurch — as a volunteer or group it will provide you with the following:
Supplies on loan for the duration of volunteer service
Storm Drain Stencil Kit
And more (see the website)
You can even make it exciting for your kids as they could be Drain Rangers — a fun program put on by Puget Sound Starts Here. Drain Rangers get coloring pages, other games and even a cool badge.
We walk by drains en route to work, to our homes, to restaurants, to coffee shops and so on. Yet we hardly ever stop and think about the service they provide for us. So next time you see a massive pool of water at the corner of a street, or Elliott Bay goes brown again, remember that there is a way to help.