Pipers Creek Natural Drainage System (NDS) Project

Rendering of street view of project
Pipers Creek project rendering

Project description

Reducing flooding, improving creek water quality, and providing multiple community benefits.

More than 12 million pounds of pollution are carried into our water bodies through stormwater runoff each year. Stormwater that falls on the roofs, streets, and parking lots in your neighborhood can pick up harmful pollutants before it runs into Pipers Creek, which flows into Puget Sound. The pollutants can harm fish, wildlife, and our ecosystems.

The Pipers Creek Natural Drainage System Project will identify, design, and implement several blocks of natural drainage systems in the Bitter Lake neighborhood to treat an equivalent of 4-5 acres of polluting surfaces, in order to capture and treat stormwater before it drains into Pipers Creek and Puget Sound. 

This project is part of SPU's Plan to Protect Seattle's Waterways and aims to:

  • Improve water quality and reduce pollution of stormwater flows into Pipers Creek and Puget Sound and help manage stormwater by constructing natural drainage systems in your neighborhood.
  • Provide community benefits, which include reduction of drainage issues in the street, traffic calming, and added landscaping.


The Pipers Creek Natural Drainage System Project is focused on improving water quality, reducing drainage issues, and reducing pollution in Pipers Creek by implementing several natural drainage systems within the Bitter Lake neighborhood.

View the Pipers Creek project map. 

As design continues, the selection of blocks getting NDS cells will be narrowed down further, but other drainage improvements may be implemented in the current project area.

What's happening now?

This project is currently in the early design stages as we study locations to construct natural drainage systems and other drainage improvements in the project area. As of early 2023, design has been paused as we onboard a new design consultant but is expected to resume by early 2024. In the meantime, there won’t be many project updates, but you can expect updates and engagement opportunities to resume as we ramp up the design process again. Additionally, SPU has recently engaged with its regulatory partners to renegotiate the terms of the Consent Decree which guides this project’s schedule. This could result in a different schedule and expected project completion date. More updates will be shared on this possible development.

Community benefits

Natural drainage systems offer multiple benefits to local neighborhoods and ecosystems, including:

  • Increased landscape diversity
  • Lower risk of flooding
  • Healthier creek ecosystems
  • Traffic calming
  • More trees along the street

For pedestrian improvements, SPU is partnering with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to bring sidewalks and other improvements to the neighborhood. This work overlaps with the Pipers NDS project area, but also has the potential to extend beyond where the SPU drainage improvements will be built. For more information on the SDOT improvements, please contact Shauna Walgren at shauna.walgren@seattle.gov.

The project will also help the City of Seattle achieve its goal of managing 700 million gallons of stormwater runoff using green infrastructure by 2025.

Community input

Community input will be essential to this project alongside technical evaluations in each project phase. The project team will work with neighbors and community members to understand important issues in the neighborhood and identify the feasible and appropriate locations for natural drainage systems. Community members will be able to share their input through a variety of online and in-person activities, and surveys. Sign up to receive email updates when public input opportunities become available.


  • Pause options analysis (10% design)
  • Select new consultant design team

Early 2024

  • Resume options analysis (10% design)
  • Develop 30% design
  • Public meeting(s) for community information and feedback
  • Complete design

Late 2024

  • Start construction

End of 2025

  • Complete construction

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.