Factsheets & FAQs
There are many resources on the website to learn about watersheds. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions and our fact sheets on rain barrels, rain gardens, stormwater facilities, native plants and others.
Publications & Videos
Homeowner Practices for Managing Rain
Storing Rain in the Pacific Northwest: Rain Barrels (PDF – 1.1 MB)
How to build a rain barrel - Video Link
How to install a rain barrel - Video Link
Reusing Rain in the Pacific Northwest: Rain Gardens (PDF – 1.5 MB)
What is a Rain Garden? – Slide Show with Audio (flash presentation)
Using Native Plants
Landscaping in the Pacific Northwest: Native Plants (PDF – 899 KB)
Neighborhood Stormwater Facilities
Stormwater Facilities in your Neighborhood (PDF – 461 KB)
Going Green: Vehicle Maintenance (PDF – 463 KB)
What’s a Rain Garden?
Understand what a rain garden is an how it helps beautify your yard and protect the environment. (Slide show with audio).
What’s a Watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and snow and drains into a given stream, river, lake, or wetland into a wetland, stream, river, lake, or groundwater. Watersheds include forests, prairies, industrial areas, and neighborhoods. They cross county, state, and even international boundaries. Watersheds can vary in size. Cedar Creek drains a small watershed into the Lewis River, which drains a much larger area. The Lewis River then empties into the Columbia River, a watershed covering thousands of square miles.
What is non-point source pollution?
Non-point source pollution is pollution that contaminates surface and groundwater that do not originate from one specific place, such as a pipe. Non-point pollution may come from a variety of everyday activities, such as fertilizing the lawn, changing the oil, washing the car, and painting.
Land uses like farming, ranching, forestry, and building can also contribute to non-point source pollution. Fortunately, non-point pollution can be reduced through simple practices such as fencing animals away from creeks, washing cars on the lawn, and using only appropriate amounts of fertilizer and pesticides. Contact us with specific questions on reducing non-point source pollution.
Why do all the new sub-divisions have those ditches?
Newer sub-divisions are built with “bio-swales” to reduce non-point source pollution. These swales actually reduce pollution by allowing sediment and pollutants to settle out before stormwater moves into streams or lakes. Vegetation in the swales remove many of the pollutants so they don’t wind up in our streams.
I heard that having a rain barrel is illegal!
A lot of people know that Washington State considers rain water a resource of the state which is defined as “all water above, upon, or beneath the surface of the earth, located within the state.” RCW 43.27A.020. The Department of Ecology is responsible for maintaining WAshington's water resources but has never required permits for negligible amounts of rain water collection. See more about this topic on Ecology's website.