Home  /  Inside City Hall  /  Public Works  /  Surface Water Management

Surface Water Management


Surface Water Management (SWM) is responsible for the comprehensive management of the City's man-made surface water systems. This involves protecting developed and undeveloped properties from flooding, runoff and water quality problems, while continuing to accommodate new residential and commercial growth. SWM also promotes the preservation of natural drainage systems and the protection of fishery resources and wildlife habitat.

Services are provided in the form of the following programs: 

SWM provides all surface water and stormwater-related services for Federal Way. Please note that SWM is not associated with the two water districts currently providing water and sewer service within the city. Please refer to your water and sewer bill to determine your provider. The Lakehaven Utility District can be reached at 253.941.1516 and the Tacoma Public Water Utility can be contacted at 253.502.8000.

For more information on the surface water utility please see the Federal Way Revised Code, Chapter 11.35, "Surface Water Utility in General."

For information on SWM Design and Development related documents, visit the Development Services page.


Your SWM Dollars at Work

What is stormwater?   

Federal Way gets about 41 inches of rainfall per year.  While this seems very rainy, Olympia gets about 53 inches, and the rainiest place in the United States is on Mt. Waialeale in Kauai, Hawaii, which gets about 460 inches annually.

No matter where you live, the rain that falls and flows across roads, driveways, and yards is called stormwater.  Stormwater picks up pollutants on the ground such as oil, automotive fluids, paint, construction debris, lawn chemicals, pet wastes, cigarette butts, and other garbage.  Because the stormwater system contains no filters and does not provide treatment, the stormwater carries pollution straight into our local waters and into Puget Sound.

How does SWM manage stormwater? 

In 2020, SWM:

  • Hosted 11 online Green Living Workshops.
  • Sent 14 environmental e-newsletters to over 450 people.
  • Maintained 12,762 storm drains.
  • Inspected 532 construction sites.
  • Tracked and mapped 258 outfalls.
  • Performed 238 source control inspection, and
  • Investigated 102 water quality violations.

Like almost every city in King County, the city of Federal Way assesses residents with a SWM fee to pay for surface and stormwater-related services. SWM charges are included on resident’s annual property tax statements. Just like water and sewer, SWM is a utility. 

Why has my SWM fee increased?

The city of Federal Way hired the FCS Group, a financial consultant to identify the revenue needed to meet the state and federal regulations, maintain or replace existing infrastructure, respond to increased development, and protect and restore water quality and aquatic habitat. 

The study showed an increased need for additional revenue and proposed a new fee structure that was approved by the City Council in 2019. 

The new fee structure is calculated based on the total square footage of property that is covered by hard or impervious surfaces.  The more surface water that drains off a property, the higher the rate. Before 2020, the fee was only partly assessed based on impervious surfaces.



E-Newsletter Sign-Up


Interested in receiving updates from the Surface Water and Solid Waste and Recycling Divisions? Sign up for the "Environmental Services" e-newsletter!





Emile Ancelet
Surface Water Quality Program Supervisor


Public Works:


After Hours Emergency:


News and Updates

2022 SWMP