Competitive streamflow grants projects

Innovative stormwater project reduces flooding while preserving streamflow

The Albany Street Stormwater Pond in downtown Rochester reduces flooding, recharges the local aquifer, and serves as a community space for residents. Thurston County received $1.2 million to complete the project through our streamflow restoration competitive grants. The county began construction in September 2019 and completed the pond in January 2020.

Before pond construction, rain frequently caused flooding on roadways and residential lawns. Thurston County worked with the Chehalis Basin Partnership to develop options for a stormwater project and to conduct community outreach to engage residents in the design process. Local community members provided feedback on the project’s design. After hydrogeological analysis, the county finalized an innovative concept for an infiltration pond that included desired community amenities like a walking path and an amphitheater.

Addressing flooding while improving water quality

To address flooding, the county installed half-mile drainpipe that routes stormwater from 30 acres in Southwestern Rochester to the infiltration pond. The pond contains an engineered soil mix to ensure water is steadily absorbed into the ground. The soil also acts as a water filter, improving overall water quality and promoting native plant growth.

Benefits to watershed and fish

Water that enters the pond travels about 4.4 miles underground to recharge the local aquifer and the Black River. This water also offsets some residential well use. Thurston County hydrologists used mathematical models to estimate that in a year the pond will absorb the same amount of water as a football field flooded 12 stories high. Peak stormwater flows from winter months should reach the Black River from May to September, to support Chinook, Chum, and Coho salmon as well as Steelhead trout.

A space for the community

people sitting on stone bleachers at an outdoor amphitheater

The open-air amphitheater is a gathering space for the community during summer months. There is a trail for walkers and runners around the pond, boulders where children can play, and drought-tolerant native plants that attract birds and other wildlife. The Chehalis Basin Partnership recently hosted a public tour and used the amphitheater to introduce residents to this project.

“When we took a group of Thurston County residents to the site, they were most excited about the aesthetic aspect of the project. That is, how it’s nicely designed and creates a space for people to walk and gather. So often in restoration we focus on what we’re doing for the fish, but this was a good reminder that the community will be more supportive of what we do for fish when there are real ways for them to engage and learn,” said Kirsten Harma, Watershed Coordinator, Chehalis Basin Partnership.

Ecology’s Streamflow Restoration competitive grants

Since 2019, we've awarded about $1.6 million to Thurston County to support projects that will help recharge local watersheds for salmon while offsetting rural water use.

Our streamflow restoration competitive grants fund projects that improve rivers and streams in Washington. We support the work of state and local agencies, Tribal governments, and non-profit organizations throughout the state. The application period for the next grant round is currently open and closes at 5 p.m. Feb. 1, 2022.