City of Spokane wins prestigious EPA award for urban rain garden project



Protect Water Quality in Spokane River

The City of Spokane will receive the prestigious PISCES Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for successfully demonstrating innovative stormwater control strategies on West Broadway Avenue in Spokane, Washington. PISCES is the acronym for “Performance and Innovation in the State Revolving Fund Creating Environmental Success”.


The Solution to Pollution

Polluted rainwater runoff now is considered the leading cause of urban water pollution and the largest source of pollution in the Spokane River.

  • As rain and snowmelt runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots, it can pick up pollution such as: oil, fertilizers, pesticides, soil, trash, and animal waste.
  • From here, the water might flow directly into a local stream, lake, or the Spokane River. Or, it may go into a storm drain and continue through storm pipes until it is released untreated into the river.

The City built 28 urban storm garden boxes and installed 386 square yards of porous surfaces that absorb water and allow rain to go directly through the concrete into the soil below. The project replaces traditional curb and gutter systems along one block of West Broadway Avenue from Elm to Oak streets.


City of spokane - broadway surge project - pervious concrete


The City’s SURGE Project

Storm gardens function as street side depressions containing planted native vegetation and are designed to capture runoff from impervious surfaces like roofs, streets and parking lots, allowing runoff to naturally be absorbed into the ground, filtering out the pollutants. Pervious surfaces such as porous pavement, porous asphalt, and porous pavers also allow the rain to go directly through these hard surfaces into the soil below.

The project was part of the City’s Spokane Urban Runoff Greenways Ecosystem, or SURGE project. It demonstrates that these innovative “green” solutions can capture and infiltrate up to 30,000 gallons of rainwater from the single city block.

“The Broadway Avenue SURGE project demonstrates a low cost way to capture, treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff as close to where it falls as possible,” said Spokane Mayor Mary Verner. “The storm gardens have enhanced the beauty of Broadway Avenue and improved water quality by reducing the contaminants going to the Spokane River.”

“The PISCES Awards highlight successfully designed projects that further the goal of clean and safe water with exceptional planning, management, and financing.” said Director Mike Bussell pf EPA’s Office of Water and Watersheds. “This project has shown us when city agencies work in partnership with local businesses and residents, the result can be a more effective and less expensive way to deal with stormwater in Eastern Washington.”


Posted July 2011