Education & Outreach

Stormwater is rain that falls on a hard surface like a roof, driveway, or road that can’t soak up water so it flows across these surfaces to the nearest body of water instead, picking up chemicals and pollutants along the way.

When rain falls on a surface it can soak into, the water filters through the earth and is cleaned naturally through soil and plant roots. As the water soaks into the ground, it waters trees and plants. Leftover water continues draining down into groundwater (water stored underground), and slowly releases the cleaned water back into local streams, rivers, and lakes.

When rain falls on a hard surface it can’t soak into, such as your driveway at home, it flows across the ground where it collects harmful materials, such as oils, heavy metals, and litter. If too much water collects in a place where it would usually soak in, such as a lawn, it pools up and overflows into the road, taking with it fertilizers, pesticides, and pet waste. This runoff flows into storm drains, which takes the water in pipes to the nearest local stream, such as Miller Creek, or lake, such as Arbor Lake or Lake Burien, without being filtered or cleaned. Eventually, this polluted water drains to Puget Sound. 

Infographic about stormwater.
Graphic provided courtesy of City of Alexandria, VA.

Polluted stormwater is the number one toxic threat to Puget Sound and local bodies of water, threatening our wildlife, fisheries, and beloved recreational areas.

To prevent polluted stormwater in Burien, the City works with residents, nonprofits, and other government agencies to reduce stormwater runoff and prevent harmful chemicals, toxins, and wastes from coming into contact with our local bodies of water. Preventing polluted stormwater runoff is a critical issue in our community and requires participation from government, businesses, schools, community groups, and residents alike.