Downtown businesses are invited to
participate in the Downtown Improvement Gardens (DIG) project, a project
designed to improve water quality in Whatcom Creek and add green spaces to
part of the downtown core.
What are Downtown Improvement Gardens?
The DIG project intends to improve Whatcom
Creek water quality by installing 36 bio-retention facilities (formerly
referred to as rain gardens) in strategic locations
downtown. The bio-retention facilities help treat and infiltrate stormwater from
over 80 urban acres that currently flows untreated into Whatcom Creek.
DIG also creates attractive urban green spaces downtown,
can enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety, and help protect sewer
ratepayers’ investments in the piped collection system.
Who maintains and cares for DIG?
The City is responsible for looking after these facilities as an important
part of the City's stormwater collection system. City Stormwater Maintenance
crews will visit DIG sites periodically to make sure they are functioning,
but to really keep the bio-retention facilities in good shape, it will take a DIG street
steward to provide oversight and care.
Role of a DIG Steward
Becoming a DIG Street Steward is voluntary, and you can spend as much time
as you want. As a DIG Street Steward, you will be partnering with the City
to help with simple activities like picking up trash and debris, making sure
curb openings and overflow drains are unobstructed and pulling weeds. This
keeps stormwater and pollutants out of Whatcom Creek while maintaining
attractive streetscapes for the community and improving the health of our
watershed! Anytime you suspect your DIG isn't functioning properly or
needs special maintenance, you can
call the City Stormwater crews.
Thank you to our current DIG Stewards for their participation in the program:
- Alicia's Bridal and The Formal House
- Aslan Brewery
- Back in Motion
- Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authority
- Binyon Vision Center
- Ciao Thyme
- Firestone Complete Autocare
- Garden Street United Methodist Church
- Great Harvest Bread Co.
- Greenleaf Bookkeeping
- HUB Northwest
- Kulshan Services
- Shake & Shine Canine Wash and Deli
- Stan's Auto Body
- Studio Galactica
- TERRA Organic and Natural Foods/Bellingham Public Market
- TranTech Engineering, LLC
- Unlimited Auto Service
- Vital Climbing Gym
- Whatcom Council of Governments
- Whatcom Education Credit Union (WECU)
Do I need to attend a training workshop?
You are not required to attend a training workshop to become a DIG Street
Steward, but are encouraged to do so. The city recommends that you attend a
training workshop if you want more instruction on how to be the best DIG
How much time will it take?
As a DIG Street Steward, you can spend as much time as you want caring for
your bio-retention facility (rain garden). We know you are busy and appreciate any time you can
provide. The most important times to check a DIG is before or after a storm
when heavy rains can cause trash and debris to collect around curb openings
and drains, preventing stormwater from entering the rain garden. If you have
only a few minutes to spare, you can help ensure the facility works by
removing any trash, debris, and leaves from curb openings and overflow
drains. Periodic checks for invasive weeds will also improve both
performance and appearance.
Can I add plants, flowers, or vegetables to my DIG?
Adding colorful plants and flowers to your DIG may look attractive, but they
can disrupt the DIG's function in managing stormwater and restrict
traffic visibility and pedestrian safety. The City and a qualified landscape
architect will carefully
selects plants (and soil) that work best for stormwater management while
minimizing maintenance requirements. Any
changes or plant additions to your DIG may disrupt this function and crowd
out desired plants. If you think more plants are needed, check with the City Stormwater crews.
How is the DIG project funded?
The City Stormwater
Utility will provide a 25% match to a grant from the Washington
Department of Ecology and EPA funds.
Central Business District Bio-retention Facilities EV-105
Contact Freeman Anthony, P.E., Project Manager at 360-778-7924or