Climate Change Program

Photo of high tides
Photo: Nick Adams, West Seattle Blog

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is committed to understanding and preparing for the impacts that climate change will have on the infrastructure we manage and the essential services we provide, and to reducing our contribution. We do this by:

  • Assessing potential impacts to our water supply, drainage and wastewater systems, and tidally-influenced infrastructure and integrating this information into our decision-making.
  • Collaborating with the science community and water utilities locally, nationally and internationally to enhance our knowledge of potential climate change impacts and our capacity to prepare.
  • Engaging in federal initiatives, including the National Climate Assessment, and other water sector and climate research collaborative efforts.
  • Calculating and verifying the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases we emit.



Adaptation is a process of assessing potential climate change impacts and acting to reduce vulnerability to those impacts. Assessments of potential climate change impacts by SPU include:

  • Repeated scientific study of hydrology and water supply, as well as water demand.
  • Mapping of exposure to sea-level rise.
  • Determining the sensitivity of drainage and wastewater systems to extreme precipitation events.

Measures to reduce vulnerability could also include:

  • Physical modifications to structures.
  • Changing the way infrastructure is operated to reflect changing conditions.
  • Embedding of climate information into asset management decision-making tools.
  • Incentivizing changes in water consumption behavior.
  • Developing early-warning systems for urban flooding.
  • Amending or implementing new codes and policies.



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