Protecting Our Waters: New Look, Same Great Program

Wastewater Treatment Division’s (WTD) Combined Sewer Overflow Control (CSO) Program is sporting a new look and feel, with the goal of helping the public and people outside WTD better understand their work.

“Protecting Our Waters” is the new name of a program to prevent pollution caused by excess stormwater in the sewer system on rainy days. Through 2030, WTD will be building nine pollution control projects to keep stormwater mixed with small amounts of sewage out of the Duwamish River, Lake Washington Ship Canal and Puget Sound. These projects complete the program started in 1979.

The tagline, “Doing Our Part on Rainy Days”, sets expectations about WTD’s role to protect waterways by controlling CSOs without overpromising. It’s a great, quick way to tell the story of why WTD does CSO projects.


Why such a big change? It’s not to “sell” something; it’s about good communication that helps busy people better understand (and hopefully appreciate) the value of WTD’s work. It’s also because people outside WTD and workgroups struggle with the term “CSO”, which requires a detailed explanation almost every time the topic is discussed – even with other County staff.

Finally, it’s because good messaging and strong visual cues (pictures speak a thousand words!) can help increase awareness of WTD’s work and public support for the rate structure needed to fund it.

The new message and image platform was developed by an internal WTD team of communicators, planners, capital project staff, graphic designers and management over the course of several months which reviewed market research and opinion polls, conducted internal brainstorming exercises and eventually presented the new concept for review and approval by division and department directors, as well as the Executive’s Office.

WTD will make a transition over the coming months, incorporating the look and messaging into newly produced materials and website updates.

Special thanks to: Susan Kaufman-Una, Erika Peterson, Doug Marsano, Michael Popiwny, Jessie Israel, John Phillips, Heidi Sowell, Sandy Kilroy, Jamie Foulk, Rachael Dillman, and Annie Kolb-Nelson for their efforts!

(Original article written by Annie Kolb-Nelson for WTD’s The Watermark newsletter).