Northwest NEWS

July 2, 2001

Features

Public invited to see and learn about Cedar River Watershed

NEAR NORTH BEND - Residents who wish to learn more about the Seattle area's drinking water supply will have a chance to tour the uninhabited Cedar River Watershed this summer.
   Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) provides the annual special summer tours of the 90,546-acre protected watershed that provides almost 70 percent of the area's drinking water. This year, tours will be offered on Saturdays on July 7, 14, 21, 28 and on Aug. 4, 11, 18 and 25. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children. The tours are open to anyone six years of age and older.
   Tour participants will experience this special place by taking part in a three-hour interpretive journey by bus and by foot. They will get to see first-hand the beauty and importance of the watershed, said Ralph Naess, SPU naturalist.
   The watershed is closed to unauthorized access, so this is a unique opportunity each year for families and individuals to get to know their watershed, Naess added. (Other tours are offered year-round to schools and other groups, but are booked to capacity each year).
   Tour guests will learn about the history of the watershed and its operation. They will also hear about its diverse ecosystem, the fish and other wildlife that inhabit the Cedar River, its tributary streams and the lands of the watershed.
   "During this year of drought, people want to know more about the source of their drinking water," said Naess. "These limited tours may fill up quickly, so people should make their reservations early."
   Part of the tour will include a stop at the construction site of the new Cedar River Watershed Education Center. This beautiful new facility funded through a public-private partnership will provide environmental education to 30,000 schoolchildren annually.
   It will also be a year-round destination for families, corporate groups and scientists. Interpretive exhibits inside and beautiful landscaping outside will mirror the lush biodiversity of the watershed. An on-site research library will honor the region's cultural heritage, documenting and displaying the collected artifacts from 9,400 years of human activity in the watershed. The education center is expected to be completed and open to the public in September.
   The 141-square mile Cedar River watershed is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, northeast of North Bend. This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the first water to be piped out of the watershed and into Seattle homes and businesses.
   Today, the Cedar River Watershed, along with the Tolt River Watershed, provide reliable, high-quality drinking water to 1.3 million people located in Seattle and in the service areas of 25 utilities in King and South Snohomish counties.
   For more tour information or to reserve a spot on a tour of the Cedar River Watershed, call the SPU public programs information line at (206) 233-1515 or e-mail HYPERLINK mail to: chris.holland@ci.seattle.wa.us. For information about the watersheds, visit HYPERLINK http://www.cityofseattle.net/util/watershed/.
   In addition to providing more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area with a reliable water supply, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the city's infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region's environmental resources.