Rebranded program helps people understand CSOs

confronting climate changeProtecting Our Waters is King County’s program to prevent pollution caused by excess stormwater in the sewer system on rainy days. The older parts of King County’s wastewater system use a single set of pipes to carry both sewage and rain running off streets and buildings. Most of the time, this polluted water goes to a wastewater treatment plant. But in heavy rains, the pipes can overflow into rivers, lakes, or Puget Sound. Overflow points called “combined sewer overflows” or CSOs are built into the system. CSOs prevent sewer backups into homes and streets.


“People from the public and outside our utility didn’t understand the term “CSO” and we struggled with how to explain CSO facilities to people – including why we are building them and how they are different from other wastewater treatment plants,” said Annie Kolb-Nelson, Communications Specialist with the Wastewater Treatment Division. “So we put together an internal team of experts in branding, marketing, communications, engineering, community relations, and operations and created a new “look” and language for the program.”

The new branding, which includes a name, tagline, and images, helps King County better tell our story of protecting water bodies and people from pollution on rainy days. This year, the “Protecting Our Waters” campaign was a finalist for the Water Environment Federation (WEF) Ingenuity Award.