Real Property Services

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) owns and maintains numerous properties and property rights throughout King County. These properties help us ensure the safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible delivery and management of our drinking water, drainage and wastewater, and solid waste collection services.

Property management

We own and manage real estate used for utility services, environmental conservation, and other operations required for the safe and reliable delivery of our services and to ensure we meet city, state, and federal regulations. Our property management responsibilities include:

  • Seattle Public Utilities owned property
  • Rights of way
  • Easements
  • Historical properties
  • Conservation of land related to our operations

Questions about our real estate or property management policies? Contact the SPU Real Property Services Team.

Problems or concerns related to SPU property within the City of Seattle can be reported online. For concerns related to SPU property in other cities, please contact the appropriate local jurisdiction.

Property use and permitting

We occasionally allow incidental use of our property if it does not interfere with utility operations or create a safety hazard.

SPU has many easements as part of our real estate portfolio. If your property has an SPU easement, please contact us to discuss what uses are allowed in the easement area.

To protect our drinking water, we do not allow unescorted public access to our Cascade watershed in the Cedar and Tolt river basins. However, SPU does allow non-motorized recreational use of our water pipeline corridors and some other park facilities, such as Rattlesnake Lake. To learn more about these facilities, visit our watershed services site.

Contact us to request short term use or access across our property, discuss easement uses, or ask questions about conservation land use. Please see SPU Director’s Rule FIN-220.4 regarding charges for real property services provided by SPU.

Property acquisition and sales

SPU acquires property, rights of way, and easements necessary for drainage and wastewater, solid waste, and water supply services, utility improvement projects, and environmental conservation.

Current solicitations to purchase: There are no solicitations at this time.

Occasionally property that is no longer required for utility operations may be declared surplus. Properties are listed at fair market value as is required by Washington State law regarding the sale of public utility owned property.

Current surplus listings: There are no listings at this time.

Encroachment management

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is responsible for providing essential drinking water, drainage and wastewater, and solid waste services to the public. To deliver these services and comply with regulations, our staff need safe access to our facilities to maintain and operate our systems and infrastructure, such as pipes, pump stations, and reservoirs. SPU’s Encroachment Program helps us ensure this safe access for our staff.

What is an encroachment?

An encroachment is the unlawful private use of public land. An encroachment is often thought of as a structure, such as a fence or part of a building, but any unauthorized improvement or activity on publicly owned lands may also be considered an encroachment.

Possible encroachments may include, but are not limited to:

  • Installing fence posts, patios, and decks
  • Landscaping and gardens
  • Retaining Walls
  • Buildings / Structures
  • Retention Ponds
  • Swimming Pools
  • Playground Equipment
  • Surface grade or elevation changes
  • Storing equipment or parking vehicles

 What is the SPU Encroachment Program?

Encroachments compromise our ability to maintain our infrastructure. SPU’s Encroachment Program requires all encroachments to be either removed or formally permitted by legal agreement, per SPU Director’s Rule FIN-840. When SPU identifies encroachments on public land through the Encroachment Program, we contact property owners about removing or permitting encroaching items or activities.

Encroachment program fact sheet

encroachment program fact sheet
Click to enlarge.

Encroachment questions?

If you have questions about potential encroachments or property use permitting or would like more information, please contact Bryan Solemsaas at or

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.