Investing in water quality, one community at a time

When it comes to making a big impact on the environment, sometimes it pays to think small.

King County’s WaterWorks Grant Program began in 2015 to kick-start investment in hyperlocal projects that improve water quality and encourage community partnerships.

Through a sense of purpose and the dedication of countless volunteers, our WaterWorks grants are supporting the kind of environmental progress that makes our neighborhoods – and our region – an even better place to live.

Take for example how a former parking lot in Kent was transformed into a community garden that offers food and kinship for newly arrived immigrants and refugees.

 

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The WaterWorks Program provided $75,000 in funding to a project led by World Relief Seattle and the Hillside Church to reduce stormwater pollution and control flooding through the inventive use of green stormwater infrastructure at the site.

The result of the hard work is the Paradise Parking Plots Community Garden, a one-acre site with 50 garden plots irrigated by harvested rainwater collected and stored in four 4,000-gallon cisterns. Rainwater will provide around 80 percent of the water for the garden, and refugee youth equity interns lead garden tours to teach community members about how their site is helping the larger watershed.

In addition to reducing impervious surface and polluted runoff, the transformed site offers a place for community members to bond while growing their own healthy and culturally-appropriate food. The garden project will also feature a full service commercial kitchen to offer classes in canning, freezing and fermenting techniques. Not only will the kitchen help gardeners maximize their harvest, they may also use it to produce products for sale to neighbors and local markets.

King Conservation District, Construction for Change, other organizations, and many volunteers helped fund and build the community garden portion of the project. The WaterWorks grant was matched with $35,000 in trenching and irrigation line work donated by Wheeler Construction in Enumclaw and Plumbers without Borders, and over 1,100 volunteer hours donated by 352 volunteers! The grant match helps stretch county dollars and builds community support.

World Relief Seattle is the largest refugee resettlement organization in the state of Washington that has resettled more than 30,000 refugees in its four decades of operation. And we’re thrilled about the role of our WaterWorks Grants in welcoming our new neighbors while protecting the water quality we all enjoy.

More information on King County’s WaterWorks Grants is available online.

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