Friday, April 15, 2011

TOTE Installing Rain Garden

The Federal Way-based carrier Totem Ocean Trailer Express plans to install the South Sound's first industrial rain garden next week at the Port of Tacoma.

Plans call for more than 100 TOTE employees and volunteers, in conjunction with Seattle-based non-profit Stewardship Partners, to create the rain garden through the planting of about 600 native plants at the TOTE terminal along the Blair Waterway. The Port of Tacoma and the Tacoma Garden Club are also contributing to the project.

According to Stewardship Partners, which assists landowners with restoring and preserving natural landscapes, rain gardens are planted depressions that work like a native forest by capturing and naturally filtering stormwater redirected from rooftops, driveways, and other hard surfaces. Rain gardens reduce flooding by absorbing water from impervious surfaces; filter oil, grease and toxic materials before they can pollute streams, lakes and bays; help to recharge the aquifer by increasing the quantity of water that soaks into the ground; and, provide beneficial wildlife habitat.

Native plants are recommended for rain gardens because they generally don't require fertilizer and are more tolerant of one’s local climate, soil, and water conditions, and attract local wildlife such as native birds.

The TOTE rain garden will be fed by water from the terminal and the roofs of terminal buildings.

TOTE is no stranger to environmental firsts at the port. The carrier, working with the port and utilizing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency, added shore power at the terminal in 2010 to allow ships to cut emissions by turning off their auxiliary diesel engines while docked at the terminal and connecting to the landside electrical power grid.