Seattle is launching an ambitious $500 million sewer system project to help reduce sewage and stormwater runoff contamination of local waterways. The work, slated for all over the city during the next 15 years, is mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act and will mean rate increases for Seattle Public Utilitiesâ¿¿ more than 1.3 million customers beginning in 2011. The project will include incentives for homeowners, such as an initiative in Seattleâ¿¿s Ballard neighborhood for residents to install 4,500 cisterns on their properties as part of a stormwater drainage improvement project. The cityâ¿¿s press release is below: SEATTLE -- Seattle has launched one of the most extensive plumbing fixes in its history -- a 15-year, $500 million public-works project to reduce stormwater and sewage entering local waterways. The project, required by federal law, continues the vital work of restoring the Seattleâ¿¿s waters. It will also mean rate increases for several years, starting in 2011. â¿¿Although the work is mandatory, restoring our waters is important to our quality of life,â¿ says Seattle Public Utilities Director Ray Hoffman â¿¿In short, we believe itâ¿¿s the right thing to do, because it enables us to better preserve the regionâ¿¿s environment and natural resources for future generations.â¿ Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) will be monitoring Seattleâ¿¿s progress to make sure it meets water-quality standards under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The city is negotiating a consent decree with EPA and Ecology that in turn will help shape the extent of capital investments - and influence drainage and wastewater rates through 2025. The work will affect a significant number of residents and businesses, with construction projects planned in about 15 parts of town over the next 15 years. The city is seeking advice and input from various communities, to help select specific options and minimize project impacts.