Seattle Public Utilities
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) provides water, sewer, stormwater, and engineering services for the City of Seattle, and is a Northwest’s biocarbon innovator.
For example, SPU’s nationally renowned Natural Yard Care program helps families adopt the ‘5 Steps to Natural Yard Care’ as outlined in SPU’s Natural Yard Care guide (also available in Spanish and other languages): build healthy soils with compost and mulch; choose the right plants for your site; practice smart water metering; use natural pest, weed and disease control methods; and practice natural yard lawn care. The program also provides handy advice on food gardening, home composting, and rain water harvesting, as well as guidance for landscape professionals.
Since 1986 Seattle has led U.S. cities in developing comprehensive yard and food waste recycling into compost to reduce landfill greenhouse gas emissions and make beneficial use of urban organic wastes.
SPU’s Residential RainWise Program shows families how to slow and clean the rain runoff from our homes by helping the rain soak into the soil, just like it does in our native forests. Their RainWise Guide to managing stormwater shows people how to slow, spread, filter and soak in storm water, in ways that create biocarbon-rich soils and landscapes. It recommends planting trees, reducing pavement, improving soils with compost and mulch, building rain gardens, and more. The City even offers rebates in certain key neighborhoods, paying most of the cost of installing rain gardens and cisterns that significantly benefit the overall system’s ability to manage storm water.
SPU has been a national leader in piloting “Green Stormwater Infrastructure” strategies that are being replicated statewide and nationally. These strategies rely on a variety of tools distributed on sites throughout the city to increase the ability of soils and vegetation to slow, spread, filter, and soak up storm water. These methods range from permeable paving and pavement reduction, green roofs, ‘bioswales’, preserving and planting trees, rain gardens, and composting and mulching soils.
Seattle is also a contributor and an early adopter of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) which provides comprehensive guidelines and performance benchmarks for those who want to create and measure sustainable landscapes along the lines of the LEED standards for green buildings. The central message of SSI is that any landscape holds the potential both to improve and to regenerate the natural benefits and services provided by ecosystems in their undeveloped state.