Infrastructure in Washington State versus North City Water District

A recent video produced by the Association of Washington Cities, with support from the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) and the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts (WASWD, of which North City Water District is a member), has painted a sobering picture of infrastructure in Washington State:

The short story? Washington state is going to need a whopping $9.8 billion to upgrade drinking water systems over the next 20 years. And that figure doesn’t even begin to address failing sewer, streets, and bridge infrastructure.

How Does North City Water District’s Infrastructure Compare?

Those of you who are customers of North City Water District, take heart: your infrastructure is in far better shape than the rest of the state.

Not only was your entire water system upgraded in the mid 1960s, the District is on schedule to complete our 10 year Capital Improvement Program next year—a full 6 years ahead of schedule.

Projects completed in this Program over the last three years account for over $17 million in improvements to the water system, including several novel public private partnerships that saved our ratepayers over $500,000. Specific projects include (click on the links to learn more about each one):


In addition to these completed projects, we will be looking at a number of proposed projects over the next year, with the goal of reinvesting your money in the most wise and efficient manner possible to maintain the water system’s viability long term.

Upcoming projects include upgrades to our pressure reducing stations, installing individual pressure reducing valves in the Ridgecrest neighborhood, and partnering with the City of Lake Forest Park as a method to reduce the cost of the upcoming NE 178th Street project. We’ll also be constructing a new pump station (the final project at our North City Reservoir site), replacing several water mains, and we’ll begin the design of our new maintenance facility (to replace our currently undersized and outdated facility).

And this is all in addition to regularly inspecting, maintaining, and monitoring your water quality throughout the year.

Fixing a leak vac truck edited med

Why is Our Infrastructure So Different?

It all comes down to being a Special Purpose District. North City Water District performs a very focused “special purpose” or function that is separate from a city, town, or county government.

(Sidenote:  There are more than 80 Special Purpose Districts in Washington State. In the Shoreline / Lake Forest Park area, we are served by nine—including Water, Sewer, Fire, Library, Port, Ferry, Flood, Parks and Recreation, School (District #412), and the area’s newest Special Purpose District, the City of Shoreline’s Transportation Benefit District.)

What makes Special Purpose Districts uniquely able to maintain infrastructure? All of North City Water District’s attention, priorities, decisions, operations, staff, finances, and maintenance are dedicated to one purpose: your water system.

  • RATES collected by a Special Purpose District are always reinvested into the water system’s management and maintenance—our funds can never be diverted to another department, an unrelated program, or an ailing General Fund.
  • MAINTENANCE is a routine part of our daily operations, rather than an unforeseen response to an emergency. Our district takes great pride in reinvesting back into our system each year as part of our regular operations.
  • STAFF are dedicated solely to water system operations and maintenance. They are not spread out over multiple departments, with a multiplied overhead cost.

Everything we do is about maintaining the best possible water system, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For all of these reasons, Special Purpose Districts are in a unique position to address infrastructure proactively… which is exactly what we at North City Water District have done. Forgive us for feeling a little bit proud and thank you for your continued support of your Special Purpose District!