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Restore Our Waters: Partner Spotlight

Partner Spotlight - Seattle Public Utilities

Restore Our Waters – How our urban forests support a healthy Puget Sound

by Susan Harper, Outreach Coordinator 

Seattle’s lakes, creeks, the Duwamish River and Puget Sound are essential elements of our community’s character.  The Restore Our Waters initiative is aimed at protecting their health. 

To restore our waters, we all need to take three actions that the science tells us will reduce our impact on Puget Sound.  We need to slow the flow of stormwater runoff (let as much as possible soak in naturally), prevent pollution (fix leaky cars, pick up after pets, use fertilizer sparingly if at all), and restore habitat.  We need to make headway on these issues as about 75% of the toxic chemicals that get into Puget Sound are from stormwater run off that runs off our streets, buildings and homes. 

The big link between Restore Our Waters and the Green Seattle Partnership is that the work of GSP – through replacing invasive plants with trees and shrubs - addresses all three issues.  Native vegetation helps slow and filter stormwater, while increasing habitat value.  Since many of our parks and green spaces are home to water bodies, your work as Forest Stewards and volunteers keeps them as healthy as possible for wildlife and fish.  After all, these water bodies are both functioning parts of the Puget Sound eco-system – and our city’s drainage system.  That is a paradigm we face in an urban, built environment.  

Partnerships are about sharing resources – knowledge, innovation, people and tools.  Many city departments support the work of GSP, in particular Seattle Parks & Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities.  These agencies are active partners in supporting GSP efforts because we need to balance the provision of an adequate drainage system for residents while protecting the environment.   These agencies help with staff and resources, including scientific and technical support, tools and information sharing; together, we roll up our sleeves so that restoration efforts are effective.  The reality of our built environment puts pressure on these natural areas, which is our legacy to protect. 

The work of restoring habitat in our parks is a critical piece of the puzzle to help us prevent further degradation to the Puget Sound and set us on the path of improvement.  Removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants, enriching the soil with compost and mulch and monitoring improvements all make our waterbodies healthier.
In the upcoming year, Restore Our Waters will continue to partner with GSP and support efforts to reaching its goals.  In this way, our shared vision of a sustainable city will continue to come to life!

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