Longfellow Starts Here

Photo of woods area with a footbridge

Project description

Seattle Public Utilities is working to improve the sewer system in the South Delridge community (South Delridge, Roxhill, Westwood, Highland Park, Riverview, and Puget Ridge neighborhoods) as well as reduce pollution in Longfellow Creek.

During heavy rain events, stormwater can overwhelm the sewer system and cause Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) resulting in untreated sewage discharge into Longfellow Creek.

In addition, when it rains, stormwater runoff from roads and other hard surfaces collected by SPU’s drainage pipes carry pollutants into Longfellow Creek. These pollutants are harmful to aquatic habitats.

Both types of pollution can be harmful to humans and the environment.

To reduce CSOs, improve water quality in Longfellow Creek, and provide other benefits to the community, SPU plans to make infrastructure investments in South Delridge, a community that has experienced a historic lack of investment.

SPU is collaborating with South Delridge communities, the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), the Department of Neighborhoods (DON), and SPU's consultant team to center racial and social equity throughout this work to determine how and where these investments should be made. This project is a chance to improve upon the way utility management and urban planning has traditionally been done by partnering with the community. SPU is planning to work with communities to create a plan together that respects and enhances the way that communities use their community space. In this journey, we hope to combine our expertise, knowledge, and visions to ideate, create, grow, and succeed together.


South Delridge (South Delridge, Roxhill, Westwood, Highland Park, Riverview, and Puget Ridge neighborhoods) is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Seattle. It is home to several immigrant, religious, racial, multicultural, and multiracial ethnic communities.

Delridge has a distinct topography and a range of ecosystems. As the name implies, the landscape is characterized by dells and ridges which has resulted in limited east to west connectivity. Many areas also lack safe sidewalks and bike lanes, and experience flooding and drainage issues. 

Map image with border overlay
The South Delridge community (South Delridge, Roxhill, Westwood, Highland Park, Riverview, and Puget Ridge neighborhoods).

Visit the project area map

What's happening now?

In 2021, the project team paused work on the Longfellow Starts Here project due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presented to continuing effective and meaningful community conversations and outreach. We are now resuming work on the project and will provide further updates as we identify next steps. We look forward to reengaging with the community and renewing our partnership with the Innovation Team.

Sign up for project email list to stay updated on our next steps for the project.

Community benefits

We are focused on improving water quality in Longfellow Creek, investing in meaningful infrastructure, and meeting the needs of the South Delridge community. To do this, we will be creative about ways to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, particularly youth and the elderly.

To improve environmental and public health we will pursue partnerships with community members, schools, and other community organizations in the area. We are actively seeking ways to incorporate environmental and health-related benefits into the project.

Community involvement

There will be multiple opportunities to share feedback and learn more about the project.

Sign up for project updates here.

Check back here for more information about ways to get involved. If you have ideas for your neighborhood or are part of a community group that would like to be involved as we restart the planning process, please reach out to Shanti Colwell at Shanti.Colwell@seattle.gov.

  • Late 2022: Draft concepts developed
  • Early 2023: Community feedback on draft concepts
  • Late 2023: Options development and evaluation

The Longfellow Creek watershed has experienced extensive industrial, commercial, and residential development. This development has fundamentally changed the watershed as wetlands and floodplains have been filled in, buildings have been constructed in the floodplain, and large sections of the creek have been piped and moved underground. As creek floodplains have been eliminated and disconnected, peak flows in the creek have increased and erosion has narrowed and deepened the creek channel. These changes have caused flooding and property damage, fish habitat loss, and barriers to fish passage. The negative impacts of development and urbanization have degraded habitat and human connectivity to the watershed and eliminated many of the drainage benefits that a well-functioning creek can provide.

Through the Longfellow Creek Floodplain project, the City aims to make significant investments in the Longfellow Creek watershed, bringing multiple benefits to the watershed and the nearby neighborhood. Funding for this project was made available by SDOT and King County Metro, both of whom are required to provide stormwater flow control because of their work in the Delridge Corridor. Rather than building costly underground detention vaults to manage stormwater, SDOT and King County Metro have entered into an agreement with SPU to develop an alternative approach to meeting these stormwater flow control requirements. The Longfellow Creek Floodplain project comes out of this agreement, as a project that will increase natural flood storage in the Longfellow Creek watershed while also providing multiple benefits to the ecosystem and community.

Please check back later for more information and project documents.

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.