Duwamish River Opportunity Fund

The Duwamish is our city's only river, but that is not the only thing that makes it special. Native Americans use the Duwamish as a resource and for cultural purposes. Salmon and trout use it as a migration corridor and a large number of fish and wildlife species use the estuary for rearing. The Duwamish is also a working waterway that supports many of Seattle's shipping and industrial businesses.

Decades of industry near the Duwamish have left significant contamination in the mud and along the river's banks. So in 2001, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed a 5.5 mile stretch of the Duwamish River as a Superfund cleanup site. Since then, the City of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle and the Boeing Company have invested over $100 Million in early cleanup actions to reduce contamination by 50 percent, while we also work to eliminate ongoing sources of contamination. EPA has a plan to finish the rest of the Superfund cleanup. The Duwamish has been a vital part of Seattle for more than 100 years and we are committed to making sure it continues to be for the next 100 years.

City of Seattle's Role

The City of Seattle is working to make the Superfund cleanup of the Duwamish River result in the optimum outcome for the Duwamish River and adjacent communities. Superfund cleanup and pollution source control are not enough to achieve the quality of life people desire. The City is committed to addressing community concerns about affordable housing, displacement, jobs, economic development, and healthy food.

The City Council and Mayor directed City staff to assemble possible actions and to estimate funding needs to address the following objectives:

  • Identify, encourage, or provide options for safe fishing and healthful fish consumption.
  • Ensure equity in all policies and efforts for environmental and community development and enhance human and natural habitat in local neighborhoods.
  • Provide job training and placement assistance in addition to that provided by the EPA's Job Training Initiative.
  • Preserve affordability and produce more affordable housing, including home ownership.

The City will consider integrating existing programs, enhancements to these programs, and complementary new initiatives to address these objectives. The City will seek to coordinate this work with its partners, including King County, the Port of Seattle, and other entities, private and public, that have common interests and goals in these communities. The City will strive to find creative ways to work with the community to make progress on these priorities as well as additional priorities identified in the Health Impact Assessment led by the University of Washington School of Public Health, the Duwamish Valley Vision Map and Report, the City adopted Georgetown and South Park Neighborhood Plans, the City adopted Greater Duwamish Manufacturing and Industrial Center Plan, and other planning documents for this area.

Generally, utility resources are not available for community development purposes, and City investments in these kinds of activities come from the limited resources of the General Fund, which must be used to meet a variety of critical City purposes. Since 2014, the Mayor and Council included funds in the budget to dedicate to Duwamish River area quality of life enhancements that can be implemented in partnership with King County, the Port of Seattle, and community stakeholders. These funds have been designated as the 'Duwamish River Opportunity Fund', and are intended to enhance existing programs and support new programs focused on challenges faced by communities in the Duwamish River area. Supported programs may be run by the City or through partnership with other jurisdictions and community organizations. The DROF is one component of a broader City effort to improve the quality of life and restore the health of Duwamish River communities. The City created a specific process and criteria for the disbursement of the funds in the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund.

The Duwamish River Opportunity Fund is administered by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON). The department has engaged the consultant services of Richard Conlin to manage the fund. If you have any questions, please call 206.499.5793 or email drof@seattle.gov.