Natural drainage_Flickr_kuow949The Seattle City Council’s Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee today voted to support three stormwater projects that faced elimination due to budget cuts.

Last week Sightline Institute released a white paper explaining the merits of the projects, which are  administered through Seattle Public Utilities (here’s a blog on it as well). They include the Swale on Yale near Lake Union, protections for Venema Creek in northwest Seattle, and an improved street sweeping program.

The projects have been in the works for years and represent great opportunities to capitalize on millions of dollars of state and federal grants, make the use of private partnerships to help defray costs, create jobs, and conduct needed stormwater research.

While these so-called natural drainage projects help Seattle fulfill Clean Water Act obligations and protect endangered salmon, they are not specifically required by state or federal regulations, making them vulnerable to cuts by the council.

City Council President Richard Conlin and Mike O’Brien, chair of the committee that took the Tuesday vote, are both advocates of the natural drainage approach, and it appears likely that the projects will get the needed funding.

Once implemented, the projects would help cleanup and reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes streams, lakes, and Puget Sound; floods homes; and damages creeks through erosion and by burying salmon eggs.

The outcome of today’s committee meeting was the creation of a drainage and waste water rate package that includes the natural drainage projects. The package now is referred to the city council’s Budget Committee, which will vote on the matter during budget deliberations in October or November.


Natural drainage photo courtesy of Flickr user kuow949 under the Creative Commons license.