Bitter Lake Reservoir Improvement Project

Aerial view computer rendering of preliminary reservoir design with surrounding neighborhood.

Project description

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is replacing the existing 21-million-gallon drinking water reservoir in the Bitter Lake neighborhood. The new reservoir, which will hold the same amount of water as the current reservoir, will be partially buried and have a smaller footprint. This provides the opportunity to develop an expanded park with more recreation amenities and public art for the community to enjoy after the new reservoir is constructed.

This project is a One Seattle effort to provide the Bitter Lake neighborhood with a new reservoir, additional open space, and public art. SPU is leading the design of the new reservoir, in coordination with Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON).


The reservoir is on a 13-acre property located southwest of the intersection of Linden Ave N and N 143rd St in North Seattle. About four acres is currently open space, a playground, and a community garden.

What's happening now?

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on the latest designs, either at our in-person events or through the project survey, in February! The project team is working on refining the design and incorporating community feedback to the extent feasible. To stay informed about upcoming engagement opportunities, please consider signing up for project email updates.

Capital projects in the design phase like the Bitter Lake Reservoir Improvement Project progress in phases (30%, 60%, 90%, final design). We expect to reach the 90% design completion milestone by fall 2024.

Community benefits

This project is part of SPU’s regional drinking water system. When construction is complete, the new reservoir will provide protection from sunlight, dirt, leaves, and other debris to help preserve water service and quality for years to come. Additionally, the project will provide more open space and public art for the community to enjoy.

Community engagement

SPU is committed to providing timely information and updates on project activities. Updates may be available in multiple formats: the website, emails, mailings, drop-in sessions, informational tabling events, briefings, and public meetings. There will be several opportunities for the public to engage and provide feedback throughout the project. To learn about current opportunities, please view the “What’s happening now” section. If you are interested in receiving project updates, please subscribe to the project email list. 

Additionally, SPU is partnering with the Department of Neighborhood's Community Liaison program to help amplify project engagement efforts and reach historically underrepresented communities. Modeled after other "trusted advocates" programs, the Community Liaisons are embedded community leaders from a variety of immigrant and refugee communities, communities of color, and communities of seniors, youth, and people with disabilities. The Community Liaisons bring deep expertise on their communities' needs and concerns, trusting relationships with community members, and an ability to build bridges between City government and community interests.

The project team is excited to have five Community Liaisons help spread the word about the Bitter Lake Reservoir Improvement Project, reaching our Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Amharic, and Oromo-speaking communities.

One Seattle

SPU is collaborating with Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) on designing the reservoir to include public art and more park space. Community engagement efforts will be coordinated, and public feedback will be shared between the four departments.

Have questions or comments about the project? We’d love to hear from you! Please reach out to the following individuals:

Reservoir Project:
Andrew Karch, SPU Program Manager |

Park Project:
Kevin Bergsrud, SPR Project Manager |

Public Art:
Rebecca Johnson Rende, ARTS Project Manager |

P-Patch Community Gardening Program:
Alicia Choi, DON Community Garden Coordinator |

Tabletop model made with clay, paper, and miniature trees.
Community members use a model of the Bitter Lake Reservoir Park to brainstorm ideas for the future park space.

SPU, in coordination with ARTS, is working with planning artist, Kate Clark, to conduct community engagement and identify public art opportunities within the site.

Since August 2023, Kate Clark has met with various Bitter Lake community groups to brainstorm and learn about the desires for public art for the Bitter Lake Reservoir Improvement Project. Meetings with locals have included residents of the Interurban SHAG, Bitter Lake P-Patch Gardeners, residents of North Star Permanent Housing, Open House attendees, and members of the Eritrean community. Through informal conversations, hands-on workshops, and public art surveys, the community has expressed a desire for public artwork(s) to:

  • provide opportunities for more community engagement and activity at the Bitter Lake Reservoir
  • celebrate the diversity of the neighborhood
  • tell history of the neighborhood
  • communicate the relationship to water at the site

 Kate Clark is collaborating with SPU and SPR to identify areas within the site where public art opportunities could take place. Next steps include:

  • identifying potential projects
  • working with the design team on a potential earthwork and fence treatment
  • opportunities for additional community feedback on public art direction
  • drafting calls for artists for public art opportunities for this project in 2024

This project is part of the City’s 1% for Art program, which specifies that 1% of eligible city capital improvement project funds be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks in a variety of settings.


  • Reservoir design
  • Permitting
  • Community engagement


  • SPU will build the reservoir first because the construction process will change the layout of the land. Once the new layout is complete, SPR will construct the park in the new and existing open space. ARTS will install permanent public art during the final stages of construction, and may also find ways to enrich the site during construction with temporary art. All three departments are collaborating closely with each other throughout engagement, design, and construction.
  • Community engagement

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.