Surface Water Quality Investigations

Did you know that most storm drains in Seattle discharge directly to our lakes, creeks, rivers and Puget Sound without treatment? It’s true and you can help take an active role in the health of Puget Sound by reporting water pollution getting into storm drains or water bodies. SPU Inspectors investigate and respond to water quality reports Monday through Friday (except holidays and furloughs).

There are two ways to report water pollution; depending on the nature of the situation:

  • Not an active threat to environment
    Call the hotline at (206) 684-7587 or use the online report form to file a pollution report (see instructions below) when there is not an active, imminent threat to the environment or storm drains. Most often, some type of behavior change is needed to resolve the situation. Complaints include things like a leaking vehicle or a business with messy outdoor practices or a mobile business (such as a contractor) that may cause pollution to a storm drain.
  • Active discharge with imminent threat to health, environment, or storm drains
    Call our Dispatch Center at (206) 386-1800. Spills are active discharges where there is an imminent threat to health, the environment or storm drains. Spills may include a ruptured drum or tank, a vehicle accident that has resulted in a total loss of automotive fluids, such as gasoline or motor oil, or a significant sheen that can be seen on the surface of a lake or stream.

How do I file a pollution report?

  • Online report form
  • Call our hotline at (206) 684-7587
  • Be sure to leave detailed information, including:
    • A specific location, including an address or cross streets
    • Time/date of your observation
    • Was there an obvious source, such as a business or specific vehicle?
    • Contact information. Please leave a name and call back number. If you would like to remain anonymous for public disclosure purposes, please let us know when calling.

What happens when I file a report?

  • We will investigate your report within 1-3 working days of receiving it.
  • The inspector may call you for more information or to clarify existing information.
  • We will investigate the complaint and take action when warranted. Actions may include education, technical assistance or enforcement.
  • The inspector will call you back and let you know what they found and what actions were taken to resolve the situation.

To report other problems

  • For extreme emergencies such as spills involving fires or explosion hazard, call 911
  • For drainage problems, including flooding or sewer backups, call (206) 386-1800

Environmental Compliance Inspector

What does a “day in the life” of an Environmental Compliance Inspector look like? Check out this episode of CityStream, featuring Eric Autry, SPU Environmental Compliance Inspector.

The Surface Water Quality Complaint Investigation Program is part of the City’s overall Stormwater Management Plan, developed to comply with the requirements of the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Prohibited discharges to the City’s drainage system are provided and enforced under the City’s Stormwater Code, Chapter 22.800 – 22.808 and associated Director’s Rules.