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Seattle Public Utilities operates water supply facilities in the Cedar River Watershed to provide 2/3 of the drinking water for 1.4 million people in the Seattle metropolitan area (the other 1/3 of the water supply comes from the City's South Fork Tolt River Watershed). In addition, Seattle City Light operates a hydroelectric power facility on the Cedar that provides about 1% of the City's electricity supply.
The upper 90,546 acres (2/3) of the watershed are owned solely by the City and support important habitat for fish and wildlife. A number of fish and wildlife species found in the watershed and river basin are either already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, are proposed for listing, or could be at risk in the future. These species of concern include bull trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, steelhead trout, northern spotted owl, and marbled murrelet, among others.
Providing a safe and reliable supply of drinking water to our customers is the first priority of Seattle Public Utilities, and species of concern in the basin may be inadvertently affected by some water supply operations and land management activities. Habitat conservation planning is a tool the City can use to achieve both species protection and water supply protection. The Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is intended to make significant contributions to regional efforts to sustain and restore declining salmon and steelhead stocks in the Lake Washington Basin as well as protect and enhance habitat for a wide variety of wildlife (see Species Restoration pdf). Management of the Cedar River Watershed represents a very important regional opportunity in protecting both salmonid fisheries and species dependent upon late-successional and old-growth conifer forests.