On Wednesday, Aug. 15, Sustainable Magnolia partnered with Tox-Ick at Umpqua Bank in Magnolia Village to host an education event to reduce Puget Sound polluted runoff.  Born out of Sustainable West Seattle, the Tox-Ick campaign is taking on a monster of a problem in Magnolia by supporting a vision for a healthy waterway.

King County reports that the South Magnolia CSO facility discharges 31 million gallons of storm water mixed with raw sewage from streets and homes each year. Toxic runoff comes from everyday sources including cars, soap, paint, fertilizers, and even dog poop.  During a heavy rain, a mixture of storm water and raw sewage overflow straight into the Sound.

Polluted runoff is our region’s biggest water quality problem, according to Washington ’s Department of Ecology. 

We need to remember that we are stewards of the same streets that wash pollution into the waterway.  We have an opportunity to better protect the waterway by taking small, simple actions to reduce toxins entering Puget Sound. Our collaborative event fostered constructive actions to reduce the flow of toxic runoff.

Before development of our region, most precipitation soaked into the ground where it fell. Plants absorbed much of the water, and some water made its way down to the water table.  Fungi and microbes purified the water as it gradually percolated through the ground.

Rain gardens with low areas to intercept water are one to mimic our native forests. When appropriately designed, they are can absorb and filter storm water, slowing the water’s journey to the Puget Sound. 

Mature evergreen trees intercept gallons of rain on the structure of the tree that subsequently evaporates, reducing runoff.  Evergreen trees also absorb water in the soil, helping to reduce the volume of storm water runoff.  Seattle reLeaf’s Trees for Neighborhoods program allows Seattle residents to plant up to four free trees for planting strips or yards.  

Natural garden care helps to keep harmful chemicals out of our waterway. Compost and wood chips create a loose soil that allows air, water, and plant root growth into the soil.  

Mycelium, the thread-like underground hyphea of fungus, is vital for ecosystem health for its role in breaking down dead organic material and increasing nutrient and water efficiency of native plants.  I have planted native mycelium strains on Ballard restoration projects and am working with the Ballard community to install mycelium in gardens to filter certain storm water contaminants.

Rain barrels or cisterns can hold roof runoff and can be used to water your garden. Other actions include properly disposing pet waste and washing cars at commercial facility like Brown Bear Car Wash that uses a water reclamation system.

Sustainable Ballard will host a potluck dinner on September 19 for neighbors who share interest in sustainability issues.  Please RSVP to info@sustainablemagnolia org.  

Visit Tox-Ick.org http://tox-ick.org/ to learn more about what you can do to support a healthy Puget Sound.

Elizabeth Dunigan leads Ballard’s Tox-Ick outreach group that partnered with Sustainable Magnolia.