Puget Sound Innovation Stories

ECOSS Spill Kit Program

Preventing accidental spills before they drain into waterways

Stormwater runoff is the leading source of pollution in Puget Sound watersheds. During storms, rainwater picks up everyday spills and leaks from business activities, construction work and vehicles. These toxic chemicals are transferred from parking lots and paved streets into public and private storm drains, which drain into local streams and Puget Sound. Contaminants in urban stormwater can pollute drinking water, spread harmful bacteria, and kill salmon that return to streams to lay their eggs.  In 2004, ECOSS and Seattle Public Utilities established the “Spill Kit Outreach Program” to reduce toxic spills from normal business activities. Since then, the program has expanded to more than 30 municipalities and reached more than 10,000 businesses related to automotive service, food service, gas stations, grocery marts, retail, and other sectors. The program reaches out to businesses to inform them about polluted stormwater and how to prepare for and respond to spills. Puget Sound is home to many immigrant communities and the program provides information in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Somali to reach the region’s many immigrant business-owners. Business are provided with a spill kit, spill plan and stormwater drainage map showing where the spills are likely to go. Follow up visits evaluate how effective the outreach has been.

What Worked:

  • Providing spill kits to 10,000 businesses since 2013 has prevented harmful chemicals from entering waterways.
  • Providing materials in multiple languages engaged more businesses owners and allowed them to participate in the program.
  • Building awareness of the harm of small spills resulted in 13% of businesses reporting spills and using the spill kit and 78% of businesses adopting spill prevention practices.
  • Preventing small spills saved business owners $521,000 in clean-up costs.
  • Promoting spill prevention and cleanup to business owners lowered spill response costs by approximately $55,400 for municipalities.
  • The project was adopted by 30 other municipalities after its successful pilot in Seattle.


  • Preventing spills from businesses protects water quality and prevents toxics from entering Puget Sound.
  • Eliminating spills reduces toxics that harm salmon.


  • Congressional District: 1
  • Legislative District: 1, 5, 10, 11, 21, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
  • WRIA: 5, 7, 8, 9
  • County: King, Snohomish


  • Seattle Public Utilities
  • King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
  • Multiple cities in Snohomish and King Counties
  • King Conservation District

Project Funding:

  • EPA National Estuary Program
  • Puget Sound Partnership
  • City-based contracts
  • King Conservation District
  • King County WaterWorks
  • Rose Foundation
  • Boeing Foundation

More Info

Publish Date: July 5, 2019