Urban Waters Protection Plan
We are developing Tacoma's first Urban Waters Protection Plan. This watershed management plan to help us take actions that will protect our streams, wetlands, lakes, and shorelines from pollutants carried in stormwater. Explore this page to learn more about stormwater issues in our community, proposed solutions, and opportunities to provide feedback to help guide solutions for the Tacoma community.
Why do we need a watershed management plan in Tacoma?
Most of Tacoma’s stormwater flows into our waterways without being cleaned at a treatment plant first. Anything that hits the ground in Tacoma could end up in streams, lakes, or the Puget Sound. Tacoma’s stormwater is managed by the Environmental Services Department whose main goal is to support healthy neighborhoods and a thriving Puget Sound.
Working Alongside other City Plans
As Tacoma faces the challenges of responding to climate change and achieving equitable outcomes for all, what we do with stormwater can make a difference for our health, safety, quality of life, environment, and our future. The Urban Waters Protection Plan will work in concert with Tacoma’s other related environmental plans to achieve shared goals and community benefits:
Watershed Prioritization Model
To inform the Urban Waters Protection Plan, we are creating a watershed prioritization mapping tool, which will use many sources of data to show which areas of Tacoma most need stormwater solutions. Input collected from community workshops and surveys during Phase 1 will inform the prioritization model. This mapping tool will be based on a Puget Sound regional water pollution model called The Stormwater Heatmap.
Watershed Planning Materials
Where Does the Water Go?
A watershed is an area of land that drains all streams, rainfall, and snowmelt to a common outlet such as a larger river, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. All surface water in our area drains from two regional watersheds: the Puyallup-White River Watershed and the Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed. These two watersheds are shaped and influenced by the natural landscape (like steep slopes, gulches, streams, wetlands, and shorelines), the built environment (like streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and other development), and the City’s Stormwater Collection System.
When pollutants enter our watershed through stormwater runoff contaminated with trash, yard chemicals, oil, soaps, pet waste, toxins, or other harmful sources, the negative effects can be measured and felt in every part of our environment.
The portions of our two regional watersheds located inside Tacoma city limits are also divided into nine sub-watersheds draining to local receiving waters, each with unique history, challenges, and opportunities for improvement: