Public Works Environmental Services
Updates from the Solid Waste & Recycling and Surface Water Divisions
Help Scientists Measure Lake Levels at Steel Lake
The next time you're on the dock at Steel Lake you may notice some new signage there. Scientists recently installed a sign along with a lake level measuring stick, or gauge, as part of the Lake Observations by Citizen Scientists and Satellites Project (LOCSS.) The University of Washington, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and NASA are using satellites and data recorded by citizen scientists to better understand how lake levels change over time.

Participating in the project is easy!
All you have to do is find the sign, read the lake level gauge, and text the water level to the number on the sign. Do it once, or come back every day. You can then go online and check out all the data that citizen scientists have collected for Steel Lake, or any of the other lakes being monitored in Washington and North Carolina.

Learn more here about what scientists are learning from studying lake levels.
Dumping Yard Waste is Dangerous (and Illegal)
Lawn clippings and other types of yard waste are inevitable by-products of maintaining your property. All of that yard waste has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, it sometimes gets dumped where it shouldn't: on hillsides or other natural areas. This is both dangerous and illegal. Here are three reasons not to dump your yard waste:

  1. When yard waste gets dumped on hillsides, it can make the slope less stable and increase the risk of a landslide.
  2. If the yard debris was treated with pesticides and then dumped near a waterway, those chemicals can seep into the water, creating a dangerous and unhealthy environment for both people and wildlife.
  3. Sometimes our yard waste contains invasive plant species without us knowing. When that material gets dumped in a public area or a storm pond, those invasives can get introduced to new areas and then have the opportunity to spread even further.

So what should you do with yard waste? Check out these four options for getting rid of excess yard waste that doesn't fit in your curbside cart.
Wanted: Stream Team Volunteers
Do you love being outside?

Do you want to learn a new skill?

Are you curious about what your City is doing to protect water quality?

Do you want to have a positive impact on your community and meet like-minded people?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Stream Team is for you! We are recruiting volunteers who will help with water quality monitoring and data collection at specific sites in Federal Way.

No prior experience is necessary. All you need is an interest in your community and the desire to learn something new, and we will train you on the rest.

If you are interested in signing up or just curious to learn more, email
Welcome Gabe, SWM Summer Water Quality Intern
The SWM Division is excited to welcome Gabe Chavez to the Water Quality team for the summer. Gabe will be spending a lot of time out in the field, assisting with water quality monitoring, program planning, and data management.

Gabe comes to us with a background in forest ecology, habitat restoration, and outdoor programming. He has done everything from conducting ecological monitoring of mountain lakes in Olympic National Park, to removing invasive plants from tidal mudflats, to conducting trail work for the City of Mercer Island. In his free time, you can find him out rock climbing, on backcountry trails, playing music, or settling in with a good book.
Can You Spot The Invasive New Zealand Mudsnail?
Don't be fooled by the tiny size of the New Zealand Mudsnail. These small animals are an invasive species from New Zealand that have no natural predators in North America, multiply very quickly, and can cause economic and environmental problems in our waterways. Once they have been found in a body of water, they are nearly impossible to get rid of.

New Zealand Mudsnails have no nutritional value, yet they crowd out native stream insects that provide a healthy food source for fish and other freshwater species. Scientists are concerned that they could even change the water chemistry of streams, disrupting the natural ecosystem.

Find out how to spot New Zealand Mudsnails and how you can help prevent them from spreading.