No one likes to experience a water outage at their home or business. Even a short time, being without water to drink, shower, cook or wash our hands can be a hardship.
While Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) works around the clock to maintain one of the most reliable drinking water systems in the nation, outages still happen, sometimes unexpectedly.
To keep customers informed, the Seattle Information Technology Department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) team partnered with SPU to develop a new online water outage map.
“The water outage map is driven by GIS technology, which represents the digital record of the City’s land base and utility networks, including the water and sewer systems,” said Harvey Arnone, interim GIS/CADD section manager for Seattle Information Technology. “The map-centric tools delivered by the project include the outage map for public consumption and the shutdown tools used by SPU staff to identify, manage and publish planned and emergency outages. These shutdown tools bring timesaving benefits to SPU through automated identification of outage areas and by supporting SPU’s customer notification workflow. In addition, the web-based outage map keeps SPU’s customers informed and reduces the call volume to SPU’s call center.”
Water pipes can break or leak, causing a sudden shut down of water services. When that happens, the water may be off for several hours while crews make the emergency repair.
Necessary maintenance and upgrades to the water system can also require that water be temporarily turned off for hours to allow planned work to occur. For these types of outages, customers are provided with advanced notice.
But regardless of the type of outage, customers want to know:
- When will my water be back on?
- Are my neighbors out of water too?
- How many customers are affected?
- What should I expect when my water is restored?
These questions and more can now be answered in real time by visiting the outage map.
Up-to-date information for both planned and emergency water outages in the City of Seattle are displayed on the map and shown as a list for those who prefer an alternate (non-map) format.
Customers can search for an outage in their neighborhood, zoom in to the properties that are impacted, and pull up information about the status of the outage – including when water is estimated to be restored, what caused the outage, and how many customer accounts are affected.
Thankfully water outages are rare for most people in Seattle but when they do occur, Seattle customers now have a new way to receive timely and accurate information to help them manage the disruption.
Note: Customers can still call SPU’s 24/7 Operations Response Center at
(206) 386-1800 to get information about and report a water outage.