Pollution Control

Working together to eliminate sources of stormwater pollution, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) helps residents and businesses find, eliminate, and respond to sources of pollution that could enter the drainage system and pollute our waterways. This work is part of the City's overall Stormwater Management Plan, which complies with the Clean Water Act.

Our Work

What we do:

  • Inspect: We work with businesses and stormwater facilities to ensure they're using pollution prevent best practices.
  • Investigate: We look in our stormwater pipes for pollutants. If we find them, we work track down the source.
  • Respond: We respond to active pollution problems. Learn more about our spill response team.
  • Lower Duwamish Source Control: SPU has focused inspections and investigations in the Duwamish Valley to reduce pollution entering the Duwamish River. Learn more about SPU's work on Duwamish River sediment.

How we work:

  • Education and technical assistance: We help businesses and facilities understand their responsibilities and how to make changes.
  • Progressive enforcement: We issue corrective action letters to property or business owners giving them 30 days to implement required Best Management Practices (BMP's). We also issue notice of violations with a monetary penalty when a property or business hasn't implemented BMPs.


Technical Resources

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The Seattle Stormwater Manual requires that businesses implement and maintain source controls (also known as best management practices or BMP's) specific to their site activities, regardless of whether an inspection takes place. Seattle Public Utilities enforces these code requirements.

The Seattle Municipal Code 22.803.030 requires all Seattle businesses to implement the following seven basic Best Management Practices (BMPs). Additional BMPs are required based upon site specific activities.

  • Eliminate non-stormwater discharges into storm drain system (i.e. accidental spills, internal building drains incorrectly plumbed to storm drains).
  • Perform routine maintenance of drainage system to remove accumulated sediment and pollutants (i.e. catch basins, ditches, storm drains).
  • Properly dispose of solid and liquid waste and contaminated stormwater per the four recommended options: 1) recycling facilities, 2) municipal solid waste disposal facilities, 3) hazardous waste treatment, and 4) storage, disposal facilities and sanitary sewers.
  • Properly store solid waste, including food waste and regular garbage.
  • Prevent, properly clean up, and dispose of pollutant spills and leaks.
  • Provide oversight and training for staff in following the BMPs.
  • Perform on-site maintenance to prevent pollution discharge from site.

Environmental Compliance Inspectors

What does a day in the life of an Environmental Compliance Inspector look like? Check out an episode of CityStream featuring an SPU Environmental Compliance Inspector.


Photo of a spill response team

Department of Ecology Pollution Prevention Assistance (PPA) Partnership

SPU is a partner jurisdiction of the PPA Partnership, which is comprised of representatives from local city and county organizations. Funding is provided by the Department of Ecology and allows the program to provide free hands-on-assistance to Small Quantity Generators (typically small businesses and organizations) who wish to improve their practices by reducing impacts to human health and the environment.

This is accomplished through visits that are designed to reduce or eliminate hazardous waste and pollutants at the source. A PPA specialist from SPU will meet with your organization to evaluate current activities and practices. They will discuss concerns, observations, solutions, and work directly to help solve common challenges around dangerous wastes, stormwater, solid waste, and spill prevention. This collaborative process limits liability, reduces risk, and improves work environments.

If you would like to learn more about this program, or to request a technical assistance visit, contact your local specialist at SPU_PPA@seattle.gov

Graphic of DOE PPA's catchphrase "Small Changes Make A Big Difference"

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.