Cedar River Watershed newsletter, Issue 19
Discover Learn Connect
Connecting people to the source of Seattle's drinking water, inspiring confidence, stewardship and sustainability.
Questions? Comments? Contact Cedar River Watershed Education Center
or (206) 733-9421

Who Protects the Source?

Mark Hopf measures snowpack

Mark Hopf measures snowpack in the higher elevations of the Cedar River Municipal Watershed.

Lakes, rivers, and forests are just a few of the diverse habitats found within the Cedar River Municipal Watershed. Seattle Public Utilities’ scientists and operational crews work closely to protect the lands that provide high-quality tap water and habitat for fish and wildlife. But who ensures the protection of the water itself? Watershed protection staff fill this vital role. Mark Hopf has been with the protection staff for over seven years and shared his knowledge with us.

Why do we protect the Watershed?

What you see up there is what you get out of your faucet. We are some of the luckiest people in the world to have this natural resource.

What is the role of the Watershed protection staff?

Our primary goal is to maintain water quality. What falls from the sky comes out of your tap. We control access to the Watershed to keep the water safe from human impacts. One method is to post the boundary with “Keep Out” signs. We also patrol on foot and in vehicle. We aren’t just looking for trespassers; we are also ensuring a constant, clean flow of water. For example, last January we had over four inches of rain in one night. This created a landslide that caused turbidity in the Cedar River. I reported this and we adjusted our operations so those fine sediments did not impact the tap water. We also test water and collect data on snowpack and weather, which informs how the water supply is managed.

What skills do you need to do your job?

We work in remote areas and need to be able to act independently. The sheer size of the Watershed-- over 90,000 acres-- is unique. We need to be able to switch gears quickly to respond to the unexpected. We are also trained as first responders, providing emergency medical assistance.

What was one of your most memorable experiences?

In 2013, I was working on a windy day. I turned around and just downwind was a cougar. We were both very surprised.

We offer tours during the summer. What might our visitors enjoy?

They get an up-close and personal view of the Watershed. They get to see the lake and Cedar Falls town site. There’s always the chance to see wildlife, too.

You can be escorted past the “Keep Out” signs to experience the Cedar River Watershed yourself. Bring your family and join us for a Signature Watershed Tour this summer!

Did You Know?

A 100-year old Douglas Fir

Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir is 18 miles long and can hold up to 412 billion gallons of water.

There are six large public utilities in the United States that provide unfiltered drinking water from protected watersheds. They differ in size, ownership, and system design, but share the need to protect surface waters so they can deliver safe and reliable water without costly filtration. The metropolitan areas they serve are New York, Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Tacoma, and, of course, Seattle!

Breaking News

Upcoming Programs

The Watershed Tour - Every Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Family Watershed - Tour Every Saturday & Sunday from 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Among Ancients: Old Growth Forests - August 1 & 15 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Knee High Naturalists - August 27 from 9:30 am – 10:30 am

Browse & register for programs >

School Lottery Open

Seattle Public Utilities offers free field trips for 4th and 5th grades to visit the Cedar River Municipal Watershed. Due to the high demand, a lottery is held to fill the limited available slots. Teachers can register online for the 2015-2016 school year lottery between May 1 and August 1 of 2015.

Learn more about school field trips >

Buy 1 get 1 Free

Good for full price tickets on The Watershed Tour only. Registration required. Limit one per registration. Cannot be combined with other offers. Expires 8/10/15.


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Visit Us

Education Center

19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE
North Bend, WA 98045

April thru October
Tuesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

November thru March
Tuesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area

19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE
North Bend, WA 98045
All Year
6:00 a.m. – Dusk

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Cedar River Watershed  email   |  (206) 733-9421  |  (425) 831-6780