Kirkland’s contractor completed the first part of a new 720 square-foot rain garden project last week in Norkirk. The project — which is located along the east side of the Cross Kirkland Corridor, south of Northeast 87th Street — is part of a larger effort from the Department of Ecology.
This particular project is supported by a King County WaterWorks grant sponsored and directed by King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. The original concept for this design was made possible through a 2014 Department of Ecology stormwater capacity grant.
Rain gardens, which are sometimes referred to as bioretention facilities, are specially designed projects aimed at easing the damaging effects of stormwater runoff. Through their layout and construction, a garden’s flora and soils capture and then filter out harmful pollutants, allowing the water to move through an affected area and come out clean.
Currently, only the foundation of the Norkirk of the rain garden is in place. Dirt and greens will be planted in the 720 square-foot space during a one-day volunteer event on Oct. 12. The gap between construction and actual planting is an intentional attempt to hit the rainy season at the right time.
Jenny Gaus, Kirkland’s surface water engineering supervisor, is looking forward to “seeing stormwater treated, and treated in a very visible place.”
“So many people walk the Cross Kirkland Corridor and hike it every day,” she added. “Just gaining that opportunity is hugely rewarding.”
Robert O’Brien, the senior surface water engineer of the Kirkland Public Works Department, also discussed the Cross Kirkland Corridor location as a positive.
“We hope this will be a good location for the public to stop and read about the benefits of treating stormwater runoff with bioretention,” he wrote in an email to the Reporter.
Building a rain garden is not an activity exclusive to larger entities: residents can also make one a reality at home. According to the city’s website, single-family properties able to drain at least a 400 square-foot roof area or multi-family or non-residential properties able to drain at the minimum an 800 square-foot roof area are eligible for rain gardens.
Gaus discussed the Norkirk project as potentially influential on Kirkland residents.
“I hope they see this rain garden and see that rain gardens can be beautiful additions,” she said. “Having this example is great for the community because they can send people there and say, ‘Hey, here’s what one can look like, and you can put it in your yard.’”
The Norkirk project isn’t the only rain garden being implemented in the Kirkland area. Thanks to a King County WaterWorks grant, one will soon be coming to the Finn Hill Area east of Juanita Drive Northeast. O’Brien said that a rain garden in Champagne Creek may start construction in the fall, and that there are other similar projects still in the design phases.
According to Gaus, rain gardens show the public that it’s possible to combat the effects of runoff.
“Stormwater is everyone’s problem,” she said. “Everybody can be part of the solution.”
For more information about the project, visit to the city’s website.