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Education and Involvement

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Make a big ripple in Tacoma's clean water and natural beauty by joining us as a volunteer. As an individual or as part of community groups, you are part of the solution to protecting Tacoma's environment.


Youth Opportunities

Storm drain stenciling and curb marking
City tours and presentations

Adult Opportunities

Restoration projects 
Green Event Program (with optional Environmental Services Event Support) 
Make a Splash grants 
Environmental Services Commission 
Water pollution hotline
Get involved with trees
Sustainability Small Grant

We work with various community organizations to put on events and activities throughout the year. Read about what these organizations are doing to improve the waters around Tacoma and learn how you can get involved.


Design Manual

An updated Municipal Stormwater Permit was issued to the City of Tacoma on August 1, 2013, by the Washington State Department of Ecology under the Clean Water Act. The permit required that the City of Tacoma update its Stormwater Management Manual and review development codes and guidance to encourage Low Impact Development. The permit mandated code and regulatory document updates include changes to the Design Manual and Tacoma Municipal Code and were required to become effective by January 7, 2016.


The public comment period for the updated Design Manual is now closed. For questions about or on the status of the project please contact us at swmupdates@cityoftacoma.org.


Draft - City of Tacoma Right-of-Way Design Manual
Redline - Draft City of Tacoma Right-of-Way Design Manual


An overview of the changes and respective code changes was presented at a public meeting on October 8, 2015. Here is the presentation for your reference. No formal public comments were received at the meeting.


EnviroChallenger Program

The City of Tacoma EnviroChallenger program has three awesome educators who tour the schools and teach students about taking care of our environment. Learn more.

The Arts EnviroChallenger program builds on the success of the EnviroChallenger program by adding arts education for K-5 students. The program provides educational opportunities for K-5 students that integrate visual arts and science.


Catch Basin Marking

Water that goes down our storm drains flows directly into Tacoma's waterways – carrying with it all the pollutants it picks up along the way. The City's curb marking program marks our catch basins as a friendly reminder that our stormwater goes untreated directly to the nearest creek, stream or Commencement Bay.


Volunteers can check out a kit that contains supplies and instructions for applying special markers to the curb.


The curb markers are made of durable, non-fade plastic and are glued to the curb near a catch basin as a reminder that there is “No Dumping, Drains to Puget Sound.”


Through an ongoing partnership between the City and Citizens for a Healthy Bay, the goal to mark every catch basin in Tacoma is becoming a reality.


Do you have a group that would like to volunteer to mark curbs? All materials are provided and you’ll be helping keep our water clean for future generations! For more information or to schedule an event, contact Citizens for a Healthy Bay at (253) 383-2429.

Tours and Presentations

We’re proud of our work and we’d like to tell you about it. Whether it’s a tour of one of our wastewater treatment plants, an environmental lesson in your classroom or an up-close demonstration showing the benefits of our fish-friendly TAGRO soil products, we’d like you to know us better.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Tours
Every year, we lead hundreds of students (middle school through college) and community group members through our wastewater treatment plants so they can see just how they play a part in recycling our resources and keeping our water clean. To set up a group tour, call the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant at 253.404.6933.

Classroom Lessons
Our EnviroChallenger program lets kids get their hands dirty while learning to keep our earth clean and green. The EnviroChallenger is a free service, courtesy of Environmental Services and is available to visit Tacoma Public Schools second through eighth-grade classes. For high school level environmental lessons, contact Citizens for a Healthy Bay or the Stream Team. Learn more about the EnviroChallenger program.

TAGRO Presentations
Team TAGRO gives dozens of presentations every year at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, civic and community groups, business groups, garden clubs, Boy and Girl Scout clubs, community street fairs and home shows. Learn how we turn biosolids into mix and potting soil. Get your hands a little dirty and try your own recipes for soil products. To set up a TAGRO presentation, email us at TAGRO or call TAGRO at (253) 502-2150.

EnviroShorts Video Tours       

Where exactly does your waste go when you throw it away or flush it down the drain? EnviroShorts take you on a virtual tour to see where your waste goes. You’ll discover what happens to garbage, food and yard waste, recycling, hazardous waste and wastewater, and visit the Tacoma Recovery & Transfer Center. These short videos demonstrate that nothing is ever truly wasted, but instead our resources are reclaimed and put to use in new ways.

Restore Our Environment

Population growth, recreational use and heavy industrial pollution have taken their toll on the beauty of our shoreline areas. The City of Tacoma is restoring these areas to a natural state, and we invite you to help. We need volunteers to help with planting grasses and other plant life – creating a habitat that is fish-friendly and clean. The City partners with Citizens for a Healthy Bay and other groups on restorations projects. For more information and to volunteer please contact Citizens for a Healthy Bay at (253) 383-2429 or email Citizens for a Healthy Bay.


Green Event Program

In an effort to further the sustainability vision of the community, the City of Tacoma has created a Green Event Program to help events decrease their impact on the environment. Events that participate in this program take extra care to ensure that their event is more sustainable by incorporating green initiatives like providing bike racks, reducing waste, donating excess food, and more. Events within Tacoma city limits may apply for Environmental Services Event Support of material goods or in-kind services, such as garbage, recycling, and portable toilets (previously available through the Environmental Services Sponsorship program). Events that apply for this support must be not for profit with a Green Excellence status. Learn more about Green Event Program.


Sustainability Small Grant

City of Tacoma Environmental Services awards Sustainability Small Grants to help educate residents, and protect and restore our environment. A reimbursable maximum award up to $5,000 is open to anyone considering a project in Tacoma. Projects that help educate residents and/or businesses on the environment and sustainable practices are encouraged to apply. Especially those that focus on protecting and restoring our local environment and quality of life. Learn more about the Sustainability Small Grant program.   


Make a Splash Grants

City of Tacoma Environmental Services awards up to $50,000 a year in environmental grants to help educate residents and protect and restore our surface water resources. Grants may be up to $4,000 and are open to anyone considering a project within Tacoma city limits. Projects may be educational and should focus on preventing pollution and protecting or restoring clean water.


Learn more about Make a Splash grants.


Water Pollution Hotline

Have you seen pollution going down our catch basins or someone illegally dumping? If you activities that threaten the health of Commencement Bay or surrounding waters, call TacomaFirst 311 or report it through their web page. Customers can dial 311 when within Tacoma city limits or (253) 591-5000 from anywhere else if you see anything that looks like it might damage the bay's water quality. We appreciate your help to keep our water clean!