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Spokane wins EPA PISCES award for innovative stormwater project

Release Date: 06/28/2011
Contact Information: Ann Deasy, City of Spokane Public Information Coordinator, 509-625-6318, adeasy@spokanecity.org; Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov; Jani Gilbert, Dept. of Ecology, Communications, 509-329-3495, jani.gilbert@ecy.wa.gov.

Nearly $600,000 in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding provided for project

(Spokane – June 28, 2011) -- Today, 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.

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

Stormwater is rain and snow melt that runs off surfaces such as rooftops, paved streets, highways, and parking lots. As water runs off these surfaces, 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. 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.

“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.”

Director Mike Bussell of EPA’s Office of Water and Watersheds, will present the PISCES Award during a celebration at 3:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at 1804 W. Broadway Avenue in Spokane. PISCES or “Performance and Innovation in the State Revolving Fund Creating Environmental Success” Awards were created in 2005 to recognize the extraordinary successes of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) programs. Washington’s Department of Ecology (Ecology) administers the CWSRF program to finance projects that support the Clean Water Act by protecting environmental health and water quality.

“The PISCES Awards highlight successfully designed projects that further the goal of clean and safe water with exceptional planning, management, and financing.” said EPA’s Bussell. “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.”

Ecology provided the project with $599,000 in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (federal stimulus) funds to be administered through the Revolving Fund program. Half of this amount was 20-year low-interest loan, and half did not have to be paid back (forgivable principle).

The SURGE project demonstrates that these innovative “green” solutions can capture and infiltrate up to 30,000 gallons of rain water from the single city block.

On hand at the celebration will be Governor Gregoire’s Eastern Washington Representative Steve Becker; Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and council members Steve Corker and Nancy McLaughlin; Director Mike Bussell of EPA’s Office of Water and Watersheds; Ecology Eastern Regional Director, Grant Pfeifer.

For more information:

SURGE project: www.spokanewastewater.org/surge.aspx
Ecology’s Web site: http://www.ecy.wa.gov

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