Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming. — Alice Walker

As we exit 2023, I’m proud to highlight key SPU achievements. Our talented and dedicated staff of 1,400 people accomplished so much while working with and for all of you in Seattle and our region. Thank you for your continued support and partnership.

This year, we experienced exceptional challenges. Among them: Duwamish River flooding which greatly affected people and property, lingering pandemic-related economic and community impacts, and extended stretches of dry weather that increased fire risk in our mountain watersheds and impacted water supply conditions.

Through it all, SPU employees were there – helping residents, community members, and businesses 24/7/365. We deliver essential services while protecting public health and our environment. We put YOU, our customers and community, at the center of all we do.

We’re a public utility. We manage waste and water in partnership with you to build stronger, healthier communities for today and tomorrow – so that all of us can thrive. As a public utility, we deliver essential services and reinvest our customers’ dollars in the communities we serve to build for the future.

Our accomplishments in 2023 show how we’re preparing to face the challenges ahead. They demonstrate our shared progress as one SPU, one community, and One Seattle. Read on to learn how SPU and the City of Seattle invested in your community in 2023.

—Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO

Delivering Life-Sustaining Services

Our day-to-day helps you with your everyday. We sustain critical infrastructure and services and keep our city and neighborhoods clean and strong. This year, we worked on more than a thousand new water services, hundreds of spot sewer repairs, and millions of solid waste collections. We responded to more than 418,000 calls for customer service requests and more than 29,000 urgent service calls to our Operations Response Center.

Assistance through Hardships

We helped SPU customers receive almost $5 million in COVID relief and emergency assistance, increased Utility Discount Program participation, and began providing loans through our Side Sewer Assistance Program.

We also worked with partners across the City on Affordable Seattle, to help provide a unified community resource where people can find benefit programs for utilities, childcare, food, and transportation.

A Huge Project with Even Bigger Rewards

MudHoney, our giant tunnel boring machine, completed its 2.7-mile journey from Ballard to Wallingford in June. This is a major milestone for a major project; the Ship Canal Water Quality Project is a joint project with King County Wastewater Treatment Division.

This project will reduce the amount of polluted stormwater (from rain) and sewage that flows into our waters, making them cleaner and safer for fish, wildlife, and people.

At the Forefront of Climate Action

Our urgent work on climate change has improved our readiness for high-tide inundation in South Park. We also rolled out additional electric vehicles in our fleet, completed a Cedar River Forest Management Plan, sponsored Circularity 23, accelerated local efforts to Stop Food Waste, and so much more.

Keeping Seattle Clean and Safe

Our dedicated team works to preserve the cleanliness and safety of our environment and ensure that all community members have equitable access to public spaces.

This year, we collected and disposed of millions of pounds of waste from illegal dumping, litter, sharps disposal, and encampment- and RV-related garbage, as well as addressed over 850,000 square feet of illegal graffiti.

Beautiful Collaborations for Alki and South Park

We celebrated completion of Alki Pump Station 38 and the South Park Pump Station this year. These pump stations showcase SPU’s investment in infrastructure for our future, support of public art, and commitment to making communities safer, healthier, and stronger.

Next time you visit Alki, check out artist Sarah Thompson Moore’s “Tracing Alki”; it is part of a collaboration with the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and was inspired by a topographical map of Alki.

Activating the Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Seattle Water is Pure from the Start and a precious resource for 1.5 million people in our region. In late September, SPU began asking customers to reduce their water use as part of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan. When the plan was deactivated on December 11, customers had reduced regional water use from 149 to 103 million gallons a day to benefit both people and fish.

Continuing Fiscal and Regulatory Stewardship

We are dedicated stewards of your environment, health, and dollars. Our water quality testing continues to show that SPU’s drinking water quality results exceed federal and state requirements.

Our operational, maintenance, and capital investments are continuing to reduce sewer overflows. In June, the Washington State Department of Ecology approved the 2022 Solid Waste Plan Update: Moving Upstream to Zero Waste.

Building our Future Workforce

We’re investing in Seattle’s workforce—both at SPU and in our community. We filled more than 450 vacancies this year, provided on-the-job training for apprentices, and welcomed 31 college and youth interns.

We also trained community members, including people who were formerly incarcerated, to clean restaurant grease traps or deconstruct houses to keep old growth wood out of the landfill.

Legislative Wins for Water and Waste

SPU works at the local and national levels to protect community health and our environment because we put you at the center of all we do.

This year, more than 50 experts from SPU reviewed 120 bills to ensure legislation helped us advance our priorities.

Session highlights include passage of bills that will make cosmetics and personal care products safer, make battery disposal easier, prevent plastic pollution, and help save salmon in Lake Washington.

Thank You for an Amazing 2023

You are the U in SPU. We can’t do what we do without you, our customers, our community, our partners. Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who participated in street cleanups, tree plantings and stewardship, composting trainings and outreach, and more. These partnerships help keep Seattle a healthy, thriving community today and for our future generations.