Water Service - Understanding the Process
All new water services or changes to existing water services within SPU’s direct water service area are regulated and approved by SPU. This includes the cities of Seattle, Shoreline, Burien, Renton, Lake Forest Park, and unincorporated King County.
Check for water availability before developing a property
Before developing a property in an SPU water service area, you must request a water availability certificate (pdf). This will verify if water service is available for the parcel.
You can also research water availability with our water and sewer map.
Apply for new water service or change an existing water service
Any property owner who wants a new connection to Seattle’s water supply system or to change their existing water service must agree to the rules and regulations of this agreement. You will need to provide a completed water service application & agreement form (pdf).
- If you have additional water services (such as a short plat or unit lot subdivision), complete an addendum to add additional water service (pdf) for each of the assigned addresses. A separate application is not required for each address.
- Provide a right-of-way (ROW) permit number.
- In Seattle, provide an issued 51M SDOT permit or a 60% complete Street Improvement Permit plan approved by SDOT showing the complete restoration of all water related work on the paving plans
- If outside of Seattle, contact your local jurisdiction to obtain a ROW permit.
To prevent delays in processing your application, make sure the following information is clearly provided on the site plan:
- Site plan must be drawn to scale (minimum 1-inch = 10-feet).
- Existing and proposed water mains and other existing and proposed underground utilities.
- Improvements such as existing and proposed curbs and sidewalks, structures, landscaping, trees, and any natural amenities.
- Existing and proposed water meters, fire hydrants, and other surface improvements. Clearly show the size and location, described by footage from the private property line, of each proposed meter.
- Property lines, right-of-way lines, easements, area ways, street center lines, and dimensions to established reference lines.
- Obtain any required easement documents recorded by King County (private or public).
For 4-inch and greater water services only (or as required):
- A profile (cross-section) that shows the depth of each existing and proposed utility.
- Plan signed and stamped by a Washington state licensed engineer or surveyor.
After completing the steps above, you will receive an invoice via email. Pay your invoice following the payment instructions on the second page of your invoice.
- For new water services or changes to your existing 2-inch or less service, invoices are based on a standard menu of charges.
- For new water service connections or changes to your existing 4-inch or greater water service, invoices are based on-site specific costs, which delays the invoice generation by approximately 2 weeks.
After the invoice is paid, SPU will generate a work order for the field crews to install your water service in the ROW. The SPU crew chief will coordinate the installation with the primary project contact.
The property owner is responsible to install and maintain the private water line and any required backflow protection equipment from the city union to the building’s plumbing connection.
Note: Step 6 can occur before Step 5 based on your construction schedule.
- To avoid possible delays and additional costs, call (206) 684-3536 for assistance in determining if backflow protection is required for your water service connection.
After you install the private water line, ensure you meet the all requirements as defined in the most current versions of the Uniform Plumbing Code (pdf) and Washington State code for cross connection control:
- Before covering, call (206) 684-5800 to request an inspection of the underground water service lines on property after installation.
- After underground water lines are connected and where backflow protection was required, call (206) 684-3536 to schedule a backflow inspection. Ensure that you meet all fire department standards for the property.
For projects with multiple two-inch and smaller water meters, SPU requires a multiple meter flow test prior to receiving water service.
- Each meter will have a tag containing the address of the building or unit the meter is intended to supply and directions on how to contact SPU to initiate the required inspection.
An inspection will be required prior to receiving water service to ensure the private water service line from each building or unit is connected to the meter designed to serve it.
When you are ready for a flow test inspection, call (206) 684-5800. You will need to confirm the following information:
- Provide the correct addresses for the meters ready for a flow test inspection. The inspections cannot be requested without the correct addresses. If you are unsure of the address, check the tag in the meter box.
- Legal addresses, as assigned by the permitting agency, are clearly visible and affixed on the building,
- Private plumbing has been connected to the City union and passed or is ready for a Utility Service Inspection private water line inspection,
- There are no issues to access the spigot and meter box in order to complete the flow test, and
- The project is ready for inspection.
The inspection will typically occur within 5-business days. Once the inspection is complete, the SPU inspector will turn on the water.
This process will ensure water meters are installed in the approved manner which is important for future renters or property owners. By contacting SPU prior to the inspection, we can help clarify requirements for a successful inspection which will promote coordination and improve efficiency.
- Changes to your approved utility site plan must be approved prior to SPU’s field crew scheduling the first field visit. Contact your project lead as early as possible if you have revisions to your approved utility plan.
- Changes to a project after a WAC is issued, particularly changes in lot configuration, require a new WAC which can result in delays or additional costs to your project.
- WACs expire 18 months from the date of issue. Be sure your WAC is valid when applying for a water service.
- Notify SPU when an extra water service is required, such as a fire or irrigation service. Each separate water service line needs a water meter.
How are water services regulated?
Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) outlines water rates and regulations in SMC Chapter 21.04. The State of Washington defines basic regulatory requirements to protect the health of consumers using public drinking water in WAC Chapter 246-290.
This Client Assistance Memo (CAM) should not be used as a substitute for codes and regulations. The applicant is responsible for compliance with all code and rule requirements, whether or not described in this CAM.