Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Seattle, King County to spend $1.5 billion on wastewater upgrades

Wonderlane photo

The city of Seattle and King County will spend $1.46 billion on upgrades to public sewer systems aimed at reducing the amount of polluted water entering the Puget Sound and other waterways, according to a federal settlement filed under the Clean Water Act. 

Under the agreement, the city and county will also pay $750,000 in fines for dumping raw sewage into the Sound and several lakes. 

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the problem is old infrastructure that allows sewage to overflow during heavy rains.

“So we’ve known about this. We’ve built this into our rate structure for Seattle Public Utilities," McGinn said. "It’s the type of upgrade that’s called for under the Clean Water Act, which has huge support from the American public. We want clean water.”

The settlement, which was negotiated over several years, allows greater flexibility for the use of so-called green infrastructure such as green roofs and rain gardens to meet water quality standards.

McGinn recently announced ambitious new goals for the use of green infrastructure in managing Seattle's stormwater.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to