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    Categories: Serving Communities

Protecting Puget Sound one rain garden at a time

Seattle’s Puget Sound is an incredible system of estuaries, its shoreline carved over centuries by oscillating glaciers. It contains immense diversity in both habitat and wildlife, along with ideal recreation opportunities and a stunning view of Mount Rainier.

But with as many as 230 people moving to the popular area daily, pollution problems are on the rise.

“Almost any place you go in this area, you’re going to have a view of mountains, rivers, streams and the ocean,” said Ron Gascoyne, Lowe’s store manager in Silverdale, Washington, a city in the Puget Sound area. “It makes you think about what has been done to the environment and what we can do to help.”

On Oct. 22, Gascoyne and employees from Lowe’s stores and ATGStores.com, a Lowe’s company based in Kirkland, Washington, along with KING 5 (NBC) News and community partners like The Nature Conservancy and Stewardship Partners, took steps to help curb the water pollution problem during Make A Difference Day. Lowe’s teams and their partners created rain gardens and completed other stormwater runoff prevention projects at five locations to improve the water quality in the Puget Sound area.

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“Almost any place you go in this area, you’re going to have a view of mountains, rivers, streams and the ocean. It makes you think about what has been done to the environment and what we can do to help.”
— Ron Gascoyne, Lowe’s store manager in Silverdale, Washington

Rain gardens are created with specific trees and grasses designed to absorb storm runoff from gutters and filter the water of pollutants, said Chris Hilton, urban partnership director for The Nature Conservancy Washington Chapter.

“The Nature Conservancy Washington Chapter works to counter the No. 1 threat to Puget Sound water quality, and that is pollution due to stormwater runoff,” Hilton said. “When it rains, the tire debris and brake dust, not to mention litter and cigarette butts, wash into Puget Sound, creating significant water quality concerns.”

ATGStores.com provided a backyard makeover in Kirkland that included a rain garden and outdoor furniture, and Lowe’s employees stayed busy building rain barrels at the Mill Creek store and helping plant thousands of plants and convert pavement to rain gardens in Tacoma, Poulsbo, Duwamish and Mill Creek.

More than 80 Lowe’s volunteers from 13 stores across the Seattle area participated in the projects. At the Tacoma site alone, Lowe’s volunteers helped create two rain gardens with more than 1,700 plants.

“The reason we did this is that it impacts the masses,” Gascoyne said. “Stormwater and pollution are impacting the environment, and we and the people we partner with want to make a difference on a larger scale.”