Monthly Archives: January 2011

Raingarden Pumping Schedule

A neighbor sent two pictures of the City pumping the Raingardens late last week. What is significant is the condition of the “water” by the time it was pumped – notice the thick, green scum that has been stewing for more than three days or even a week. If it looks bad, imagine how bad it smells.

The City has stated many times the Raingardens will be pumped every three days, which is a key point in their argument for why mosquitos won’t breed. We see a different schedule. Why the delay? Did someone call in sick? Did a truck break down? Did another Raingarden across the city have to be pumped instead? Our safety and health are dependent on a truck showing up every 72 hours. Is this fair? How long does SPU expect us to be dependent on a pump schedule – for another 12-36 months?

And how much is this extra pumping costing the City during a budget shortfall?

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How Many Raingardens Are Actually Functioning?

We’ve heard SPU state twice that 70% of the Raingardens are functioning properly.

There are 31 cells total in our two-block area.

12 (39%) are not draining at all. In fact, we have witnessed those cells filling up again within hours of being pumped when it is not raining, indicating to us they are below the water table and cannot possibly be fixed, even with underground drainage.

9 (29%) are not draining, but could possibly be fixed (unknown). These sit with anywhere from two to four inches of water for several days after it rains 1/2 inch.

10 (32%) are functioning properly.

We live here; we watch and build monitoring reports. This is the most accurate information. 

We’re all working toward the same goal – to cut down on the run-off and save Puget Sound. We should identify the functioning Raingardens honestly so we know what to address and where to cut our losses.

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More Regarding Drowning from Consumer Reports

Water containers and kiddie pools

Empty all outdoor containers of water—including 5-gallon and smaller buckets, insulated coolers, and wading pools—after use. They’re a formidable hazard for small children who can drown in as little as an inch of water. Store them upside down, preferably indoors. If you have a large inflatable pool and can’t dump the water every day, enclose it with a fence; it’s the best protection against drowning, which is the second leading cause of accidental death in children under age 5. Simply covering a pool can be hazardous; children trying to move the cover have become entangled and drowned.”

(ConsumerReports.com)

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Drowning Prevention Resources from WA State Drowning Prevention Network

The Washington State Drowning Prevention Network has been incredibly supportive (a special thanks to this great organization) and has supplied many resources on drowning prevention, particularly for babies and toddlers.

Just one example is the Children’s Hospital Boston’s Pediatric Health Blog. A sample post:

“Earlier this week a 2 year old boy walked out of the back door of his parent’s house, onto a second story deck and made his way down a set of wooden stairs. The toddler walked right past the family’s swimming pool, which had been covered with a cover but still had a small puddle of collected rain water, and fell into a small outdoor fishpond. Unable to pull himself out, the young boy died. His mother was in the house at the time, but by the time she realized he was out of the house it was too late.

“Though tragic, this story is unfortunately all too common. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury related death for kids in the U.S. One of the most common scenarios for these accidents involves toddlers drowning in swimming pools—usually when the parent thinks the child is safely inside the house. Unfortunately, at this age, if a child ends up face down in the water, he or she usually does not have the cognitive ability or the coordination to pull themselves out. Infants can drown in a just a few inches of water in the bathtub, which is why they should NEVER be left unsupervised in the tub. Toddlers can drown in water that is at a level less than their own standing height; so again, they should never be left unsupervised where there is standing water. This includes swimming pools, garden ponds, five gallon tubs and even toilets.”

(See full site here: http://childrenshospitalblog.org/water-saftey-swimming-pools-arent-the-only-drowining-risk-for-toddlers/#)

The Washington State Drowning Prevention Network’s number one action to eliminate potential drowning hazards is to empty all buckets, containers and wading pools.

SPU’s stance is they cannot find evidence that a child has drowned in a Raingarden; therefore children’s safety are not at risk around these full ponds. However, a typical Raingarden is dry most of the time, and ours have standing water most of the time (more than two inches).

Is there a difference between a full pond (“Raingarden”) and a birdbath where the risk to a two year old is concerned?

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Featured on KomoNews.com

Our Raingardens (and this blog) have been featured on komonews.com: http://ballard.komonews.com/content/ballards-new-green-infrastructure-has-some-neighbors-seeing-red

To address SPU’s statement that “60 percent to 70 percent of the rain gardens are functioning properly, meaning there is less than six inches of standing water and water drains within 72 hours of the last rain”: As residents we do not feel that waiting 72 hours after rain stops in Seattle, Washington, for there to be no pooling water is an appropriate or safe design for a neighborhood. Technically, they should then be called “retention basins” and should be located in more open areas, such as parking lots, parks, and beaches.

Additionally, it is impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of the Raingardens given they have been plugged with tar, not allowing them to fill as designed. Water cannot flow in from the street, and lips on the curbs prevent the water from flowing out.

Secondly, SPU is not pumping the Raingardens every three days, which should be apparent by today’s earlier post and the picture of the standing water that had pond scum on the top after over a week of no circulation.

Thirdly, SPU’s assertion, “There’s no evidence, either nationally or locally, of children being hurt in those things,” may be true, but that is because these Raingardens are a prototype. Toddlers drown in 1-2 inches of water, period. [Sources: Washington State Drowning Prevention Network, Oregon Department of Health and Services, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Children’s Hospital, and Safe Kids USA.] These Raingardens are unquestionably, inarguably unsafe for all of our children.

We look forward to the Community Meeting on February 2nd to fully describe our issues and provide suggestions for improving these Raingardens, if they can be recovered at all, given the type of soil they have been installed in.

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First Pond Scum, Then Mosquitos

A neighbor sent a picture taken yesterday of the Raingarden outside her house (south side of NW 77th, closest to  29th Ave NW) that held standing water for over a week. Pond scum formed on the top. Yesterday SPU pumped it dry; not in time to stop mosquitos from breeding.

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A Comparison

Portland Raingardens:

 

Ballard Raingardens:

Key points:

In Portland,

  • No signs
  • Variety of vegetation
  • Less shallow “pits”
  • No standing water.

Same function.

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