Climate Change

High tides at Alki Beach
Rising sea levels are threatening coastal areas throughout Seattle, including Alki Beach.

SPU and Climate Change

SPU’s customers and essential services are impacted by and contribute to climate change. As climate change presents challenges to managing Seattle’s water and waste services, we are taking action today to minimize impacts to and foster resilience for current customers and future generations:

  • We are prioritizing frontline communities and climate justice to help address racial, environmental, and health inequities that climate change may worsen.
  • We are mitigating carbon pollution from our operations and laying the groundwork for a circular economy to reduce citywide emissions through One Water and Zero Waste approaches.
  • We are adapting to new extremes in the water cycle, such as wetter winters and drier summers, through climate-informed planning and investment in drinking water, stormwater and wastewater systems, operations, and ecosystem services.

Learn more about climate action.

Climate Change Impacts to SPU Operations 

SPU employee sweeping water on a downtown street
 

Climate change is having a profound effect on our community and the world around us--impacting ecosystems, communities, and people’s health. Sea level rise, warmer air, a changing water cycle, and ocean acidification are impacting Seattle’s water and waste services.  

Sea Level Rise

Sea levels in Puget Sound have risen by 9 inches since 1900 and are expected to rise by another two to four feet by 2100. This means more coastal flooding, storm surge and high tide inundation, shoreline erosion, rising groundwater levels and flood risks for infrastructure and facilities on Seattle’s coasts and shorelines.

Warmer Air

Average annual air temperature in Seattle is increasing: It has increased by 1.3 degrees F (Fahrenheit) since 1895 and is projected to be 5.5 degrees F warmer by 2050. This means acute heat and wildfire risks to SPU employees, Seattle residents, animals, and ecosystems.

Changing Water Cycle

Seattle is experiencing more extreme heavy rain events in winter, and drier, hotter summers. Snowpack in the mountains is decreasing and melting earlier. For SPU, this has extensive implications for stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water services. Shifting streamflow levels and increasing stream temperatures. Increasing winter creek, river, and urban flood risks, with increasing summer droughts.

Ocean Acidification

Puget Sound waters are getting warmer and more acidic. This presents challenges for marine organisms like salmon and resulting implications throughout the food web.