AHBL Spokane and City of Spokane, Leading the Way With Innovation in Clean Water Technology

The City of Spokane has put increasing emphasis on managing their stormwater to improve the health of the Spokane River for over a decade when it created the Spokane Urban Runoff Green Ecosystem (SURGE) program in 2010. The city received funding through Washington State Department of Ecology Supplemental Water Quality Financial assistance program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and AHBL implemented the city’s vision. AHBL replaced the existing concrete sidewalk with pervious concrete, replacing curb and providing a series of 37 rain gardens with five drainage structures covering over 1,200 square yards of pervious sidewalk to control polluted stormwater runoff along West Broadway Avenue.  

Today, the city continues this work by prioritizing projects based on their positive environment effect on the river. Even with these programs in place, the city still discharges over 1 billion gallons of untreated stormwater to the river each year. 

AHBL’s Spokane team has spent the past 20 years developing innovative design practices that mitigate environmental impacts in Spokane for both the City of Spokane and Spokane County as well as the surrounding community, to provide a sustainable future for the next generation. 

Our restoration techniques to reduce stormwater pollution include: 

  • Utilizing catch basins to pipe polluted water to bio-retention soils  

  • Engineered bio-retention soils remove pollutants from stormwater as it infiltrates through bio-infiltration soils 

  • Polluted surface run-off and sub-surface groundwater from springs is piped directly to storm drainage pipes for further treatment and infiltration 

  • Use of rain gardens and natural wetlands to infiltrate stormwater prior to release 


Our designs incorporate a variety of plant material, including native grasses and trees with organic rich topsoil to provide for natural treatment of stormwater runoff and reduce pollutants before water reaches these natural resources.  

Another practical approach that AHBL has deployed with great success while partnering with the city of Spokane is integrating community recreation and education as part of stormwater management process.  

For Hazel Creek Drainage and Conservation area, AHBL developed natural wetlands and constructed stormwater wetlands with detention and infiltration systems to manage the sub-basin stormwater run-off, while presenting the public with education opportunities to learn more about how stormwater was treated and why it’s important to raise the public’s awareness of the need to employ Low Impact Design to projects with runoff.  

The Surge program received the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Performance and Innovation in the State Revolving Funding Creating Environmental Success (PISCES) Award in 2011. 

Graphic from Country Homes Boulevard Restoration, Spokane County, WA