The Puget Sound region’s first industrial rain garden became a reality on April 19 with a planting event at the Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) terminal at the Port of Tacoma.

The rain garden, which features almost 600 native plants is designed to filter pollutants from water that runs off building rooftops. Plantings included coast strawberries that were generously donated by The Tacoma Garden Club

TOTE’s rain garden was installed with help from the non-profit Stewardship Partners, which is working with Washington State University to install 12,000 rain gardens in the Puget Sound region over the next five years.

“TOTE’s leadership putting in one of the first industrial rain gardens in the region, serves as a great example of what we believe will be many more to follow as businesses recognize the outstanding value and return on investment rain gardens provide,” said David Burger, Stewardship Partners executive director.

The rain garden is expected to eliminate more than 80 percent of the heavy metals in the stormwater that otherwise would flow into Commencement Bay. The annual rainfall collected and filtered by TOTE’s rain garden is estimated to be over a quarter million gallons.

“TOTE achieves three objectives with this rain garden,” said Rand Lymangrover, TOTE’s terminal, environmental and security manager. “It improves stormwater quality, it demonstrates to others in the industry that it works, and it helps beautify our site.”

“We appreciate TOTE’s continued leadership and initiative in creating economic and environmental vitality in our community,” said John Wolfe, Port of Tacoma’s chief executive officer. “This project demonstrates how creativity and partnerships continue to make Tacoma a great place to do business.”