​Photo by Patricia Pyle image

​Photo by Patricia Pyle

Columbia Neighborhood Water Quality Improvements - Storm Main Replacement & Roadside Rain Gardens (2016)

​Project Overview: EV-0120

This project will update stormwater mains and facilities in the Columbia Neighborhood with enhanced treatment systems that reduce common pollutants in runoff before they enter the stormwater system. Bellingham Public Works Natural Resources, with funding assistance from the Department of Ecology, will install bio-infiltration facilities (engineered rain gardens) along with other storm drainage improvements within a specific area of the Columbia Neighborhood.

A rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden that uses mulch, living soil, and specific plants to slow, filter, and absorb polluted runoff from streets and yards. Rain gardens reduce flooding, protect natural habitat, clean our waterways, save money on pollution clean-up, and beautify neighborhoods. In the Columbia Neighborhood, the rain gardens will be installed where they can provide the best water treatment benefit, where there are not existing mature trees or parking, and where the adjacent landowner is willing to adopt the rain garden. 

This project is funded by $727,000 in Department of Ecology grant funds, $890,360 in Department of Ecology loan funds, and $242,480 from the City's stormwater utility fund.

Status - March 2018

Accomplishments:  Work began in February 2018.  Piping for raingardens has been installed on Williams and Utter Streets as well as upgrades to manholes and catch basins at intersections.  Spot repairs were also made to fix holes and severe cracking on the storm mains.

Next Milestones:  Complete the raingardens on Williams and Utter Streets.  Asphalt patching is planned at these streets to coincide with spring break to minimize disruption to Columbia Elementary School.  Work will then move to Walnut Street to replace and upgrade catch basins and manholes to make them easier to maintain and access.  Following this, work will move to the southern end of the project area between Madison Street and Eldridge to install stormwater filters and replace three blocks of storm main.

Project Details

Public Events

Two public events will provide opportunities for the public to review project materials, ask questions, and provide feedback. Interested community members within the designated project area can sign up to adopt a rain garden in front of their home. Neighborhood feedback will be used alongside logistical and financial considerations to select the final garden locations and rain garden stewards who will care for these sites.

Neighborhood Meeting November 10, 2015

  • Info on the Columbia Neighborhood website here.

Public Meeting November 17, 2015

Examples of similar roadside rain garden projects

Reference Documents

Affected Neighborhoods


Participating Departments

    Public Works


​Craig Mueller, P.E.
Project Engineer
Phone: (360) 778-7922
Public Works Contacts