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

Thornton Creek Confluence Project Nears Completion

Thornton Creek

Water flows through a revitalized section of Thornton Creek. An SPU project is expanding the creek's floodplain, and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

North Seattle - Salmon in Thornton Creek have a new home, and homes of Seattle residents are now better protected from the area’s heaviest rains.

SPU’s Thornton Creek Confluence project is reimagining the landscape near 35th and 105th streets with flood mitigation, fish habitat, and clean water in mind. Once closely hemmed by concrete walls, the creek now flows through an open floodplain. That’s good news for nearby streets and homes that have long been vulnerable to damaging floods.

The project also delivers an ecological boost to a critical segment of the creek. Conifer trees and other native plants buffer the creek from the impacts of storm water runoff. In addition, SPU engineers strategically placed fallen logs to create natural pools that promote fish habitat and feeding, and the new environment more effectively filters pollutants. Take a look at the progress on Thornton Creek!

SPU Source Control Team Busts River Threat

Spill Response Team

SPU first responders monitor the scene of a major fuel spill in the Duwamish River.

SPU’s Senior Environmental Compliance Inspector knows this will be a tough case. On I-5, an overturned semi-truck is hemorrhaging oil, gas, and anti-freeze. Entering a storm drain, the pollutants skulk through pipes toward the Duwamish. The river is exposed – a catcher without a mitt.

Inspector Eric Autry and the Source Control team are emergency first responders. On scene, they promptly anchor a 100-foot boom to trap oil at the outfall point. Absorbent pads recover floating oil. Mesh bags soak effluent that the tide is washing back into the drain. The team’s strategic maneuvers and detective work are vital to protect Duwamish waters. “We train for these events and our team is ready 24/7,” said Eric Autry. “In this case we recovered nearly 100 percent of the free floating fuel.”

The Duwamish success is one among many. Follow Source Control’s latest on Twitter.

Catalyzing the Next Generation’s Impact

Salmon Homecoming

Elementary school students play Stormwater Jeopardy at the 2014 Salmon Homecoming celebration. The game connects students with actions they can take to protect local waters.

On September 18/19, 1,100 fourth and fifth graders gathered on the downtown waterfront to celebrate Salmon Homecoming. The event—led by local Native American tribes and co-sponsored by SPU—is a fun annual forum that teaches students about local water pollution and marine protection issues.

Salmon Homecoming is one among a bevy of outreach tools that SPU employs to help foster the next generation of environmental stewards.

“The programs that I participated in as a child made me realize that nature is something I care about,” said Lisa Beem, a recent graduate of environmental analysis at Scripps College. “I have carried that with me throughout my academic career.” SPU’s outreach efforts came full circle this year when Lisa wrote her senior thesis on green infrastructure opportunities in Seattle’s Thornton Creek.

Early learning programs are generating action; we’re proud of Lisa and all of the students who are carrying the environmental mantle forward for our region.

Breaking News

Windermere Project

This November, SPU will complete the Windermere Sewage Overflow Prevention Project. Find out how the project is benefiting Lake Washington.

The Long Term Plan

SPU is preparing a long-term plan to protect Seattle’s waterways. Dive into SPU’s strategy and vision for the coming decades.


Build a Rain Garden, Receive a Rebate.

Are you eligible? Visit to find out.

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.

Washington Environmental Council Photo Contest

A hashtag for good: include #waterspotter on your puddle photos to help us clean up Puget Sound pollution. And don’t miss the Funny Puddle photo contest! Submit your entry by Nov. 15 to qualify for prizes.

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