Protect Our Waters
Protect Our Waters is the City of Seattle’s commitment to take actions and promote partnerships that protect and improve our creeks, lakes, the Duwamish River and Puget Sound.
Questions? Comments? Contact Susan Harper at

Sustaining salmon in Seattle

salmon stewards

Look for Salmon Stewards at Carkeek Park this fall

Our future generations and future salmon depend on the same land and waterways we tread — or swim — upon today. Important programs like Salmon in the Schools and Salmon Stewards at Carkeek Park encourage community investment in our waterbodies’ long-term health.

Each year, Salmon in the Schools provides 70 Seattle area schools with salmon eggs. Teachers and students work together to maintain the eggs, raise baby salmon, and then release them into local creeks each spring. The program has a lasting impact on many Seattle residents, some of whom return to Carkeek Park every fall and become Salmon Stewards. Salmon Stewards volunteer to cultivate passion and share information about salmon in the city with weekend visitors to the park.

“…Visitors observe a salmon gathering its strength to jump over a log, to find a mate and spawn, to defend its nest and to eventually perish… acts that many of us can relate to that makes a connection between people, salmon and the natural world. As … volunteer Salmon Steward(s) we strive to expand on this connection, to build on the curiosity and ensure that everyone knows that they, however small it is, can help make a positive difference in this world.” – Bill Brosseau, Carkeek Park Salmon Steward

Celebrate the salmon at Piper’s Creek this fall on November 20th, or visit Carkeek from the first weekend in November through the first weekend in December to watch the salmon return. Salmon Stewards will be by the creek each Saturday and Sunday from 11a.m. – 2p.m.

Fighting the furtive FOG blob

Fats, oils, grease photo

Children learn about FOGs by playing the “FOG toss game” at the Duwamish River Festival

Tragically, some of our greatest joys cause some of our wickedest problems. Bacon grease, butter, gravies, sauces, and ice cream can cause more than just clogged arteries. When not disposed of properly, these foods are some of the biggest contributors to blockages in our wastewater system. Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) accumulate inside the pipes and harden into a soap-like substance that sometimes cause sewage backups in our streets and homes. FOGs cause an average of 5 sanitary sewer overflows in Seattle annually, or about 8% of the total number per year. There is good news: You can help prevent the build-up of FOGs by practicing the following in your home:

  • Pour cooled FOGs into an empty tin can, cover, and throw into your trash
  • Scrape your dishes, pots, and pans into your food waste container
  • Avoid using the garbage disposal – use sink strainers instead

Fighting FOG in Seattle Public Utilities’ pipes is costly ($1-$1.5 million annually), and FOG overflows can cause environmental and health hazards. Watch this video to see how FOG builds up in a sewer pipe.

Ballard natural drainage: Systems of nature, networks of people

Ballard NDS

Sidewalks covering the Silva Cells have a porous grating that allows water to flow into the adjacent roadside rain garden

The Ballard area contributes about one-third of Seattle’s total combined sewer overflows (CSOs). CSOs occur in this area because the storm and sewer system is combined. During heavy rains the volume of stormwater runoff overwhelms this combined system, causing an overflow into local waterbodies.

The Ballard natural drainage system project is working to reduce this problem. The project will consist of “roadside rain gardens” (bio-retention using soils and plants) and a new tool, Silva Cells, to naturally absorb the stormwater that contributes to Ballard’s CSOs. Silva Cells are located under the sidewalks adjacent to the roadside rain gardens and are made from a blend of glass and polypropylene. They work like strong egg cartons to hold the weight of the sidewalks while leaving space to hold ultra-absorbent bio-retention soil. When coupled with the roadside rain gardens, Silva Cells increase the filtration area of the system. The project is estimated to infiltrate 5.8 million gallons of stormwater per year. Keeping all that runoff out of the pipes helps the system do its job to carry the toxic mix of sewage and runoff to the treatment plant.

A project like the Ballard natural drainage system takes communication, collaboration, and partnerships starting at the earliest stages of development. The Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) team began outreach in Ballard during the summer of 2012. Construction began in spring 2016 after a thorough planning and community outreach process. SPU also worked closely with the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Neighborhood Greenways Program and the Seattle Public Schools to promote the safety and walkability of the neighborhood during and after construction. Although it took four years to plan, the Ballard project will take less than a year to construct. Final plantings are scheduled to go in at the end of October and will mark completion of the project.

Breaking News

Seattle Green Infrastructure

Seattle Public Utilities and King County green stormwater solutions were featured in WaterWorld.

Bulkheads to nearshores

What’s makes a healthy salmon habitat?

Sewage Overflows on the Rise

What can we do to make our sewer infrastructure more resilient?


Free auto leaks workshops

Have your car inspected, learn where most leaks occur, how to fix them, and get a free vehicle maintenance check kit at South Seattle College this fall.

Volunteer to be a Salmon Steward

Are you passionate about salmon education? Train to be a Salmon Steward on Saturday, October 22. Contact Bill Malatinsky at (206)-733-9697 or

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Outreach Coordinator: Susan Harper