Mimicking Nature: Seattle Takes Natural Drainage to a High Point



h1>Natural Drainage Systems

“Seattle’s Natural Drainage System (NDS) consists of stormwater management projects that use low-impact development (LID) strategies to meet multiple goals within street rights of way (ROWs), which account for 25% of Seattle’s total land surface,” writes Margaret Buranen in an article published by Stormwater Manager in its March-April 2010 issue.

A Redeveloped Housing Project

Seattle has five NDS projects. The largest and most elaborate is called High Point after its location on the western side of Seattle.

Because of its size and its relationship to Longfellow Creek, the redevelopment of the High Point neighborhood in West Seattle offered Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) a unique Seattle - high point drainage (175x233)opportunity to implement a large scale natural drainage system in an urban environment, where it could make a real difference.

High Point features the largest natural drainage project that the City has undertaken, and the first time that a natural drainage strategy of this scale has been used in such a high density urban setting.

Renewal of West Seattle

According to Buranen, “High Point is a key to the renewal of West Seattle. With 129 acres, it is the single largest redevelopment in the city since World War II. It’s also the largest sustainable mixed-use, mixed-income urban neighborhood in the US. Construction of the first phase began in 2003 and the second phase was finished in the spring of 2009.”

“High Point’s 34 blocks constitute the largest natural drainage system in the USA. The system was designed to protect the Longfellow Creek watershed, one of four major watersheds in Seattle. High Point covers 10% of the watershed, which is Seattle’s most productive stream for the spawning of coho salmon in the fall.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story by Margaret Buranen, click on Seattle Takes Natural Drainage to a High Point; and to access the City of Seattle website, click on High Point Natural Drainage System.

To read a related article posted previously on Water Bucket, click on Seattle Success Story: Revitalization of High Point Neighbourhood incorporates ‘design with nature’ approach to rainwater management.


Before STORMWATER, The Journal for Surface Water Quality Professionals, there was no single publication written specifically for  the professional involved with surface water quality issues, protection, projects, and programs.


Posted April 2010