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

RainWise Expands to U-District and Green Lake

Rain Garden

A rain garden captures roof runoff in north Ballard. The RainWise program offers rebates to homeowners who install a rain garden or cistern on eligible Seattle properties.

RainWise’s expansion to the University District and Green Lake means that 55,000 homeowners are now eligible to receive a rebate that can cover most or all of the cost of installing a rain garden or cistern on their property!

The expansion could help keep up to 18.2 million gallons of stormwater out of Lake Washington and the Ship Canal during heavy rains. “We all can pitch in to reduce pollution going into Lake Washington,” said Ann Burkhart, whose rain garden in Northeast Seattle helps filter stormwater runoff from her roof.

Be a part of the difference. Check your rebate eligibility at, and learn more at our upcoming contractor fair.

RainWise Meet the Contractor Fair
Saturday, March 21 – 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hunter’s Gathering Place in NE Seattle
7744 35th Ave N.E.

Register for this free event.

A Clean Sweep for City Streets

Street Sweeper

Seang Ngy poses after a street sweeping run through the Rainier Valley. Seang and his colleagues helped remove 131 dry tons of pollutants from Seattle roadways last year.

A unique partnership between SPU and SDOT is the foundation for one of the most cost effective ways to protect our local water bodies from pollution: street sweeping.

Sure, cleaning arterials has been part of the city goings-on for over a century, but these aren’t your grandfather’s street sweepers. They’re less broom and more vacuum, whooshing tons of pollutants—even ones 1/6 the width of a human hair—off the streets. Without intervention, the pollutants could wash through storm drains to local waters like Lake Washington, or be kicked back up into the air by the activity of the street.

Last year the street sweeping team covered over 10,000 broom miles. 131 dry tons of pollutants were removed at anywhere from 4 to 10 times less cost than conventional water quality infrastructure. With the city partnership between SDOT and SPU expanding from 33 to 43 routes in 2016, it’s tough not to get swept away by the possibility.

Down Under: Taking a Close Look at Seattle’s Sewers

Seattle Sewers

A crewmember monitors closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage from a van parked at a worksite. CCTV is a cost-effective way to inspect sewer pipes and identify problem areas.

It falls to the teams of Crew Chiefs Les Schwartz and Ray Bernardez to make sure that 1,400 miles of sewer pipe underneath bustling Seattle stay in prime condition.

To get a look, their crews deploy specialized "closed circuit" cameras (CCTV). In larger pipes, cameras might ride atop a pontoon over flowing water, or on moonrover-like machines that are designed to navigate the pipe underworld. “So much relies on CCTV,” says Ray. “By doing these routine inspections you find blockages or problems areas.” In the worst case, blockages can mean backups of waste, or in some cases, overflows into our local creeks or lakes.

The main culprits? “Roots, grease, and debris,” says Les. “They’re the killers of our system, and there’s never a shortage of any of them.”

Check out where all that grease really goes, and find out how you can be part of the solution.

Breaking News

Discounted Mariners v. Red Sox Tickets

Join SPU for Puget Sound Starts Here Night at Safeco Field on Saturday, May 16, 6:10pm. Receive a free Seattle Mariners Puget Sound Starts Here vintage T-shirt when purchasing tickets through this special online offer.

Construction Underway at Seward Park

A project to reduce the amount of untreated sewage and stormwater that flows into Lake Washington is underway near Seward Park.

Cleanup on the Duwamish

Did you catch the EPA’s decision on cleanup for the Lower Duwamish’s Superfund site? Read Mayor Murray's statement on the cleanup.


Free Automobile Leaks Classes

Gain new car maintenance skills, and learn how to help keep local waterways and wildlife safe from oil and other fluid leaks.

Water Quality Hotline

Spot it? Spill it?
SPU's got it!
Report water pollution online or by calling (206) 386-1800

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Outreach Coordinator: Susan Harper