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.
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Artist engages South Park community in weaving the future

Collage replacement

Horatio Law, an artist from Portland, OR, designed the chrysalis with the South Park Community in mind.

Passing by the construction site on South Park’s 14th Avenue, you gaze at a 6-foot by 18-foot cocoon built from rebar that is adorned with LED lights and bright, multi-colored ropes. You might ask yourself: “I wonder what that’s doing there?”

The South Park Chrysalis is a temporary, retractable sculpture commissioned by the City of Seattle’s 1% for Art fund. The piece is moved along the construction site of a sewer project as the construction travels along 14th Avenue. The artist, Horatio Law, formed the Chrysalis “ rally the public to think about the future and the possibility of transformation after these improvement projects.” He encouraged community members to collaborate in the process by facilitating workshops at the South Park Library. There, community members created “Community Yarns” in an effort to build stronger ties between neighbors. Each of these unique 1’-5’ long braids were weaved into the sculpture to beautify the Chrysalis and to represent South Park’s diversity. Through this project, the community was able to engage with one another, the art, and grow their understanding of the sewer improvement project.

Meteorologist helps protect our waters

RainWatch photograph

The RainWatch website shows precipitation measured in the previous 48 hours in the greater Seattle area.

How vulnerable is our water supply to climate change and what steps can Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) take as a utility? This is the big-picture question that SPU meteorologist and climate adaptation specialist, James Rufo Hill, asks himself every day. Rufo Hill is a part of SPU’s Climate Resiliency Group, which formed about 10 years ago in response to a low snow-pack winter that put Seattle at risk for water shortages. Rufo Hill researches weather data to better understand the impacts of climate change on water supply, drainage and wastewater, and sea-level rise. For example, he uses information about sea-level rise to help manage the most susceptible pump stations, maintenance holes, and outfalls. Day-to-day, Rufo Hill advises SPU staff by studying rain gauge records and scanning for potential impacts. He uses past problems to predict where problems might occur today, then he identifies locations that need more maintenance. “We’re trying to avoid as many (sewage) overflows as we can, and we often will change our operations and performance based on that weather information,” Rufo Hill said. For more from our local meteorologist, visit his blog.

Going deeper: bioretention to underground injection control wells

UIC graphic

Underground Injection Control, when used with bioretention, is one of many Green Stormwater Infrastructure technologies used to maintain our natural water systems.

As a result of large glaciers that covered the Pacific Northwest thousands of years ago, many of the region’s surfaces consist of a low permeability (low absorbency) soil layer called Vashon Till. The low permeability of the till layer makes it difficult for stormwater to infiltrate back into the ground, which causes stormwater to stream into our ditch and culvert or piped drainage system. This is a problem because it leads to large volumes of polluted road runoff rapidly entering our streams and receiving water bodies. The Venema Creek natural drainage project in Seattle’s Broadview neighborhood is a great example of how we’ve overcome this barrier. The design allows stormwater to collect in bioretention cells, then infiltrate through bioretention soil that cleans the stormwater of pollutants. The water is then directed to an underground injection control well, which bypasses the impermeable soil layers and allows the cleaned stormwater to discharge into the permeable outwash layer, as much as 60 feet below the surface. A few new natural drainage projects across Seattle have used this technology to remove stormwater volume in areas with till soils. This technology, in combination with bioretention cells, has potential to help mitigate the effects of urbanization on our natural water systems.

Breaking News

Salmon in the Schools

Fifth graders had the chance learn about and release salmon in Fauntleroy Creek.

Our oceans in peril

There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans — find out where.

The weather and water

See how this spring’s weather effected Washington’s water supply.


Help keep Seattle green

Volunteer with Green Seattle Partnership at one of their upcoming events.

Cistern and rain garden rebates

Are you RainWise? Check your eligibility

Free motor oil pick up

Did you know that Seattle Public Utilities will pick up and recycle your oil for free?

Protect Our Waters

Come see us at Rainier Valley Summer Parkways on August 13 and the Duwamish River Festival on August 20.


Attend a summer event to learn more about the RainWise program.

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Outreach Coordinator: Susan Harper