News Flash

Planning & Public Works

Posted on: October 2, 2012

Public invited to help high school club install rain garden Oct. 13

Oct. 2, 2012

Pierce County residents are invited to help Curtis High School's Environmental Club install a rain garden on the school's campus in University Place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct 13. The rain garden will be installed off of 40th Street W between buildings 200 and 300.

“A rain garden is a native plant garden with a special purpose: to capture, soak up and filter rain water runoff before it enters local waterways,” said Ryan Misley, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities environmental educator. “The Environmental Club decided to take action after studying how runoff affects local streams, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound.”

When it rains, water flows over hard surfaces such as roofs, parking lots, and roads, collecting pollutants such as motor oil, bacteria from pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides. The polluted runoff enters storm drains and ditches that flow to local waterways without treatment. Rain gardens filter runoff as it soaks into the ground and recharges groundwater, instead of polluting waterways.

“The students have worked hard to organize the event and are looking forward to planting a garden at their school that will also help reduce the amount of polluted runoff coming from their school,” Misley said.

The club is working with staff from Pierce County, the City of University Place, and the Pierce Conservation District to complete the rain garden. They also received donations from University Place Refuse.

Project overviewThe site was selected by the club with the help of Curtis High School Principal Terry Jenks and Misley, because of its visibility and source of considerable roof runoff. Students and volunteers will carry out tasks such as digging the garden, filling it with rain garden soil mix, planting native plants, and applying mulch and water.

“As District Athletic and Activity Director, it is my job to support the ideas and work of students that extend the learning beyond the classroom,” said Jenks. “In regards to the Curtis High School rain garden project, the students have done a lot of great work that I have been able to support and assist in moving forward."

Sophomore Christine Phan designed the rain garden with oversight by Misley.

"I really hope we move forward this year and install more rain gardens in our schools,” Phan said.

Get involvedVolunteers should come prepared for the weather. Work will proceed rain or shine. Gloves, tools and light refreshments will be available at the site.

To volunteer, contact Melissa Buckingham, Pierce Conservation District urban conservation program coordinator, at (253) 845-2973 or email

Learn simple steps you can take on your property to reduce polluted runoff entering local waterways, as well as techniques and guidelines for designing a rain garden, at

MEDIA CONTACTS:Ryan Misley, Public Works and Utilities environmental educator

Sheryl Rhinehart, Public Works and Utilities outreach coordinator

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