Garden Display Demonstrates Commitment to Protect Water Resources and Pacific Northwest Salmon

By Seattle Public Utilities Staff

salmon friendly-start with soil.The garden was far away from Puget Sound but its purpose was to show citizens how to protect the environs home of the mighty salmon in the Pacific Nnorthwest.

Seattle-based SH-Landscapes, Inc., in cooperation with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), created the innovate innovative garden, titled "Your Home is Our Watershed," for the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show. The unique landscapes feature water-conscious designs to reduce irrigation needs, slow storm water runoff and protect water quality. More than 70,000 area residents are expected to view the garden show Feb. 7-11 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.

The displays prove that a beautiful garden goes hand-in-hand with a beautiful and healthy environment.

"We want people to know that they can save water, eliminate the need for toxic chemicals and protect streams for fish in the process," said Diana Gale, SPU managing director. "Therre are steps anyone can take to have a salmon-friendly garden," she said.

salmon friendly-plant samples

Those steps include preparing soils with compost, choosing pest-resistant plants that grow well in the region, mulching to cut down on weeds and water needs, tolerating a few bugs and weeds, watering wisely and opting for open-spaced pavers, stone or gravel instead of impervious concrete surfaces. These steps measures conserve water, reduce runoff and eliminate the need for toxic pesticides or fertilizers that may find their way into urban streams and salmon habitat. Besides helping to save salmon, these practices can save money on water bills, reduce maintenance costs and make landscapes healthier and more attractive.

run-off friendly garden in SeattleThe salmon-friendly garden is one of many partnerships Seattle Public Utilities has formed to spread the word about environmental stewardship.

"We are pleased that SH Landscapes created theis exciting display. Our partnerships with purveyors, businesses and the community at large are great vehicles to spread the word abut conservation benefit conservation and other environmental initiatives initiatives. We have partnered with the community to conserve save water, rebuild urban creek habitat and reduce toxic runoff into our streams," Gale said.

The City of Seattle has been a recognized leader in conservation and other environmental initiatives for several many years. The City’s Ccurrent water consumption for SPU’s 1.3 million customers in the metropolitan area is at the same rate it was as it was in 1978, despite a 29 percent population growth, thanks to regional heavy emphasis on conservation efforts of area residents and businesses.

The regional 1% Water Conservation program in the Puget Sound region area aims to reduce on average per capita water use by one percent per year for the next ten years. Accomplishing this goal will mean the Seattle metropolitan area will accommodate a decade of population growth without any new demand for water. Water suppliers throughout the region participate in the campaign. They offer free advice, rebates on efficient clothes washers and other financial incentives to citizens and businesses who want to reduce their use of water.

SPU’s longtime commitment to the environment proved beneficial when the federal government listed the Chinook salmon as threatened last year. At the time of the listing, the utility was already well on its way to protecting salmon habitat by encouraging water conservation, urban creek renewal and other residential and commercial environmental stewardship.

SPU’s aggressive watershed management succeeds in balancing the needs of people and fish by carefully monitoring and regulating instream flows. The utility employs a team of water industry experts and fish hydrologists and biologists who keep a close eye on the water supply and the fish population in SPU’s two watersheds, the Cedar and South Fork Tolt Rrivers. SPU’s ground-breaking Habitat Conservation Plan for its Cedar River Watershed protects the home of the salmon in this pristine wilderness area. helps protect one of the region’s most prolific salmon streams by establishing an ecological reserve in the headwaters of the Cedar, restoring fish passage to more than 17 miles of high quality habitat, initiating an innovative sockeye salmon production project and providing improved, fish-friendly stream flows, all supported by a comprehensive monitoring and research program. In the Tolt River basin, SPU collaborates with the Tolt Fish Habitat Restoration Group to promote the stewardship of fish and fish habitat.

For more information about Seattle Public Utilities, visit the SPU web site at www.cityofseattle.net/util/. Click on "Conservation and Environment."