Our Story

CLU's quest to clean our waters

In 2012, founding Board Member Mark Grey noticed oil-slicked water near the west shore of Lake Union and suspected it was coming from a nearby marina. Upon further investigation, he discovered the source was from the catch basin in the adjacent parking lot. The Eastern Avenue catch basin, like many others around Lake Union, was collecting polluted street runoff water and discharging it directly into the lake without any treatment.

Shortly after this discovery, Mark collaborated with Jeremy Febus, Alexandra Ramsden, and Myer Harrell to find a feasible method for treating catch basin water. Engineered bioretention swales were the solution.  They established Clean Lake Union, LLC with the objective of identifying and financing the installation of bioretention swales around Lake Union. CLU emphasizes collaboration with private commercial landowners, developers, and local government to implement clean water solutions through the installation of bioretention swales.

Oil slick in the water at the Eastern Avenue Street-End Project
Mark Grey leading a tour of the Phase 1 bioswales

Clean Lake Union has garnered support from The Nature Conservancy, Salmon-Safe, and Boeing, all of which have assisted CLU in its journey to make a positive environmental impact.

In March 2018, Clean Lake Union obtained its 501(c)3 status operating as Clean Washington Waters. Clean Lake Union concentrates on catch basins and outfalls around Lake Union and Lake Washington, including the canals connecting these waterways and the bridges spanning them. Our mission is to persist in collaborating with the local business community and government to install bioswales throughout the region. Furthermore, we aim to consistently educate the public about our initiatives and the actions we can all take to maintain the purity of our waters.