Ecology's Rainwater Collection Policy Lets 12,000 Rain Gardens Bloom

Published Jul 17, 2012

The Washington State University Extension and the nonprofit Stewardship Partners have launched an ambitious program to establish 12,000 rain gardens throughout the Puget Sound region by 2016.  A rain garden is an area dug into a slight depression, filled with well-draining soil and plants, that captures channeled stormwater and infiltrates it on-site.  Rain gardens collect and absorb rainwater that would otherwise run off rooftops, driveways, and parking areas.  The “12,000 Rain Gardens” campaign highlights eye-catching, low maintenance landscaping that prevents pollution, increases property values, and reduces the overall cost of stormwater management.  Over 700 rain gardens have already been installed in the Puget Sound area.

In an article published in the July 2012 issue of the Western Water Law & Policy Reporter, Tupper Mack Wells attorney Sarah Mack explains how the “12,000 Rain Gardens” project was enabled by the Department of Ecology’s 2009 policy allowing on-site use of collected rainwater without a water right.  Without this acknowledgment by Ecology, collection and use of rainwater for landscape irrigation would be considered a beneficial use of water requiring a water right permit -- spelling delay if not doom for the “12,000 Rain Gardens” campaign.  For more information, contact Sarah Mack at

  • To view the article, click here.
  • To find WSU Extension resources for developing a rain garden, click here.
  • To view more information on the rain garden campaign, click here.
  • To view Ecology’s rainwater collection policy, click here.