Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood is sporting an example of the Northwest’s leadership in urban design: a 32 acre natural drainage system. In urban areas, most rainwater runs quickly off impervious surfaces, carrying pollutants into creeks or lakes. But now Broadview uses weirs, native plants, sinuous streets, small wetland ponds, and silty soils to capture the rainwater and put it to better use.

The winding streets slow traffic. The native plantings will be a big aesthetic boost. And the price of construction was actually lower than installing traditional curbs and gutters. The Seattle Daily Journal of Commercereports (subscription).

Broadview was selected in part because the neighborhood sits in the drainage of Piper’s Creek, where activists are restoring a small salmon run in the city. The design has exceeded expectations: it captures 98 percent of stormwater runoff, according to Seattle Public Utilities. And, in a hopeful sign of how we can reconcile ourselves to nature, salmon now return to the creek in late fall where they’re observed by walkers, children, dogs, and at least one river otter.