Stormwater Community Projects

Managing stormwater is a priority for the City of Burien. The City works with residents, schools, nonprofits, community groups, and contractors to build green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to prevent flooding and stormwater runoff.

GSI is a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing the impact of our wet weather. While single-purpose gray stormwater infrastructure—conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems—is designed to move urban stormwater away from the built environment, GSI reduces and treats stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits. Each year, the City works on a number of GSI projects. GSI is also referred to as Low Impact Development (LID).

Rain Garden Projects

A rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. The garden should be positioned near a runoff source like a downspout, driveway or sump pump to capture rainwater runoff and stop the water from reaching the sewer system.

The City has installed rain gardens on public rights-of-way throughout the city. Staff have also helped as Burien residents and schools install rain gardens on their own property. Rain gardens benefit our local streams in several ways:

  1. Rain gardens allow rainwater to soak into the earth, a process which recharges groundwater and naturally filters out pollutants before they flow into our local streams, such as Miller, Walker and Salmon Creek.
  2. Rain gardens reduce polluted stormwater runoff, which is rainwater that flows across roads, roofs, and driveways and collects pollutants such as oils, heavy metals, and waste. Polluted stormwater runoff flows into storm drains and flows directly to local streams, generally without being cleaned. This means the polluted water pours straight into our streams, harming wildlife that live in and rely on the stream habitat for survival. This polluted stream water eventually flows into Puget Sound and harms the aquatic ecosystem there too.
  3. Rain gardens can be a beautiful and easy-to-maintain solution for areas that commonly flood. Rain gardens collect water and allow it to soak into the earth. This helps prevent pooling water in yards, as well as preventing stormwater from flowing into the road and becoming polluted.

2017: Rain Garden Learn & Do Workshops

In 2017, the City sponsored a pilot project installing rain gardens for ten households in low-income neighborhoods. People receiving rain gardens opened their doors to the community and, together, both neighbors and program participants learned how to install a rain garden.

People plant a garden.

2016–2017: Sylvester Middle School Rain Garden

The City partnered with Washington Green Schools, ECOSS, and Sylvester Middle School to develop and implement a stormwater solution for the school. After learning about stormwater pollution and solutions, 8th grade students at Sylvester designed their own rain garden and rainwater capture system to address flooding and run-off.Middle schoolers plant a rain garden.

2011: St. Francis of Assisi Community Rain Garden

A sixth grade class at St. Francis of Assisi school installed a rain garden with the assistance of their parish and neighborhood. Read our interview with their teacher, Michael Stein-Ross, to learn all about it, and check out the photos below to see the garden’s transformation over time!

Sign in front of rain garden.

2017 Projects

SW 165th Stormwater Improvement Project

City staff completed a road and stormwater improvement project on SW 165th St, between 16th Ave SW and 19th Ave SW, in the Gregory Heights neighborhood in September 2017. Before the project was completed, this street had experienced years of pavement deterioration and seasonal flooding, due to poor drainage and soils. This project constructed a new roadway, added a new stormwater pipe, and installed several LID features, including rain gardens. This new stormwater infrastructure will reduce seasonal flooding on private property by rerouting stormwater out of residents’ backyards and into the new pipe in the roadway.

Construction project.