People often take for granted what is required to bring water to their homes and to remove wastewater. You may not think twice when turning on the tap or flushing the toilet! The Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District has a complex system utilizing both surface water and groundwater for our supply, and our hilly terrain adds additional challenges. Our staff members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year to meet the needs of our customers. Our people are skilled workers and certified operators who often work outdoors in bad weather and under hazardous conditions.
The District is a special purpose water and sewer utility that operates without taxes and District ratepayers fund the costs for the District to provide these services. Unlike a city government, we have few options to minimize our fixed costs. A city can decide to close a park or change office hours. The District can’t shut down a water main, water tower, well or lift station to reduce operating costs. We can’t say, “Sorry, no water or sewer service for you today!”
You turn on your tap and fresh, clean water is available for your use. Take a moment to think about what is required to get the water to your home. The District uses a groundwater modeling process to locate aquifers deep underground. We then drill the wells, and we have some that are as deep as 1,000 feet! We have many miles of pipeline, and much of our infrastructure is underground and difficult to access without digging. Here are some facts about our water system:
- We have 14 wells, some up to 1000 feet deep, which pump water from underground to the surface.
- We have 8 storage tanks, with a combined storage capacity of 23 million gallons. Water is stored in the tanks before it is pumped to your home.
- We maintain 318 miles of underground water distribution mains. That’s enough to stretch from Sammamish to Spokane! Any work on these mainlines involves digging three to five feet deep underground to locate the pipes. Finding and fixing leaks can be a challenge!
- We take care of 16,500 water meters that track the consumption in your home so we can calculate your water bills.
- We look after 2,400 fire hydrants to make sure they are working properly if a fire were to break out in your home.
- We maintain a total of 51,902 total assets, including valves, control valve stations, air vacuum relief stations, blow off valves and two connections to the regional water supply.
- The District pumped 1.6 billion gallons of water in 2011.
- The water system must meet complex state and federal water quality, water use efficiency, and distribution system leakage threshold requirements.
You flush your toilet and the wastewater goes away, and you are probably glad that it does! What happens after you flush or take a shower? Wastewater enters our sewer system and our staff removes trash and debris, such as the supposedly “flushable” baby wipes, tampons, cigarettes, condoms and even diapers (these items clog our screens and should all be thrown in the trash can!) Crew members have to climb down into manholes to access sewer infrastructure, or dig underground to get to the pipes. After your sewage leaves our system, it takes a long journey to the King County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Renton where it is treated before making another long journey to an outfall pipe in Puget Sound. Here is some information about our sewer system:
- We have 19 lift stations that pump sewage up hills to the sewer main lines.
- We maintain 1,200 manholes. Crawling into a manhole requires specialized safety gear!
- We service 165 miles of underground sewer lines. That’s the distance from Sammamish to Moses Lake!
- We have 10,100 sewer connections. The rest of our customers are served by on-site septic systems or other sewer providers.
- We look after a total of 15,286 sewer assets.
The District passes through costs to King County for treatment and disposal of wastewater produced by District sewer customers. This is the “Metro” charge you see on your bill.
Wastewater from your home travels many miles to King County's South Plant Renton for treatment. The treated sewage then travels to Seattle and back into the water cycle through an outfall pipe that goes out nearly one mile into Puget Sound!
Take a moment to think about the people who make this possible for you. The Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District staff is proud to be at your service. We’re here for you, 24/7/365!