Where your water comes from

In Snohomish County, water is plentiful and cheap. Every home, business and industry needs it. Most of the county’s water comes from Spada Lake, high in the hills above Sultan. The rest comes from wells and rivers. Most people get their water through a city, the Snohomish County Public Utility District, a water district or some combination of those sources.

Snohomish County has about a half-dozen water districts of note. They’re governed by commissioners elected in nonpartisan races, and they’re regulated by state and federal governments for quantity and quality.

Water rates vary by district and season. Rates are supposed to cover the costs of providing the water and encourage conservation but also be fair. Districts also can draw money through connection fees for new buildings.

Most of their expenses are related to operations, infrastructure, labor and debt related to bonds.

Water district commissioners serve staggered, six-year terms, as set by state law. Most commissioners get about $100 per meeting, with an annual limit of about $9,000. Most districts have three commissioners. The Mukilteo Water and Wastewater District has four, the result of a recent merger, but a future election will bring that back to three.

The bulk of water in Snohomish County is sold wholesale through the city of Everett and is fluoridated. Very little drinking water in the county is not fluoridated.

Water districts generally don’t draw money from taxes or county government. Delivering water and removing wastewater are two separate operations. Not every district does both.

Self-governed water districts

Square miles Employees Gallons per year Miles of pipes Connections Annual budget
Alderwood Water and Wastewater District 62.0 117 9.5 billion 650.0 48,032 $32,900,000
Silver Lake Water and Sewer District 12.0 24 1.15 billion 179.0 16,049 $10,270,000
Cross Valley Water District 48.0 12 552.6 million 175.0 6,451 $4,000,000
Mukilteo Water and Wastewater District 8.8 22 607.5 million 88.0 5,710 $3,410,000
Olympic View Water and Sewer District 3.8 14 427 million 62.5 4,664 $4,100,000
Highland Water District 14.0 3 2.7 million 26.0 1,200 $1,300,000
Startup Water District Not available 1 15.5 million 3.6 243 $212,352

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