What’s Under the Storm Drain Grate?

Petunia’s Journey – A Kirkland Stormwater System Tale

With all our winter rainstorms, you can’t help but notice water running everywhere – off roofs, across lawns and sidewalks, down driveways and the edges roads. All that rain flows into stormwater drains and ditches that carry it away from our neighborhoods, out of site and out of mind. Have you ever wondered where all that water, and all the pollutants that travel with it, go? When rain falls on Kirkland’s streets, it washes down our storm drains and into the stormwater system, a completely separate set of pipes from our sewer system. Where does all that water end up? Follow Petunia the toy frog’s journey through Kirkland’s stormwater system to find out!

Rainwater Walk – Everest Creek

Everest Creek at Everest Park

Everest Creek at Everest Park

Join us on a virtual Rainwater Walk, following the path of Everest Creek from Everest Park down to Lake Washington. Along the way, we discuss the path of rainwater – where it goes and its potential environmental impacts.

Everest Park

Our walk starts along the banks of Everest Creek in Everest Park.

Restoration of the Everest Creek corridor has been occurring in Everest Park since the early 2000’s. Swaths of invasive blackberry, ivy and bindweed have been replaced by thriving native plants like western red-cedar, Oregon grape and salmonberry. The leaves of this vegetation helps to shade the creek and provide habitat for local wildlife while the roots help to absorb and filter runoff before it enters the creek.



Everest Creek culvert under Cross Kirkland Corridor

Everest Creek culvert under Cross Kirkland Corridor

Cross Kirkland Corridor

As we continue our walk, we follow the Cross Kirkland Corridor from Everest Park. We cross the path of Everest Creek again, as it runs under the Corridor trail. In its previous life as a railway, the corridor created a barrier to the natural flow of water through the watershed and down to Lake Washington. With the conversion from rails to trail, the City of Kirkland is working hard to return the natural flow of water.





Everest Creek in pipe under Kirkland Ave

Everest Creek in pipe under Kirkland Ave

Kirkland Avenue

At Kirkland Avenue, Everest Creek dives underground, transforming from a natural stream channel into a subterranean, piped channel. As we look down into one of the manholes along our route, we can see the water of Everest Creek continuing on its course – under downtown Kirkland – to Lake Washington. Along the way, it collects runoff from storm drains along the downtown roadways.





Rain garden at Park Lane

Rain garden at Park Lane

Park Lane

In contrast to our last stop, Park Lane is a showcase of “new” stormwater management techniques. Rain gardens in the right of way act like tiny forests, slowly absorbing the runoff from the road. Street trees and permeable pavers aid in this process, absorbing and filtering rainwater runoff rather than sending it down a stormwater pipe and out to the nearest body of water.






The mouth of Everest Creek is at Marina Park

The mouth of Everest Creek at Marina Park

Marina Park at Lake Washington

We’ve arrived at the end of our Rainwater Walk, where Everest Creek empties into Lake Washington.

Along its route, Everest Creek has collected runoff from the roads and properties in the watershed. As the runoff traveled across these surfaces, it picked up fertilizers, pesticides, soap, oil, pet waste, and other pollutants.

The health of our creeks and Lake Washington is in our hands. It is up to each of us to prevent water pollution and make sure that only rain goes down storm drains.