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From Tree Tops to Sewer Drains, SPU’s Amanda Bidwell is Working to Detect & Prevent Pollution

While in her Master’s program her research included climbing big leaf maples to collect canopy moss.

Amanda Bidwell is a Data Scientist with the Source Control & Pollution Prevention Division, a team dedicated to working to eliminate and respond to sources of  pollution that could enter the drainage system and pollute our waterways within SPU’s Drainage & Wastewater (DWW) line of business.  Amanda has spent her career focusing on the environmental impacts of pollution, and in doing so, it’s taken her places many never see. Amanda shares, “My Master’s research focused on urbanization impacts on nitrogen and metal cycling in canopy moss communities in Big Leaf maples. As a part of this research I got to climb maples in Seattle and the Hoh Rainforest which opened my eyes to a whole new world!” 

While working as a consultant with Seattle Parks & Recreation, she led volunteer moss walks in Interlaken Park.

She’s been with the Utility since 2018 when she started working with the Illicit Discharge, Detection & Elimination (IDDE) program in a six month field position where she assisted with screening several drainage basins across the City looking for non-stormwater discharges. Amanda’s experience with the City of Seattle didn’t start here. “Prior to working with SPU, I worked as a consultant with Seattle Parks & Recreation & Seattle City Light on several pollution monitoring projects,” says Amanda. 

When she’s not hiking, camping, or going to concerts (remember concerts!?), she’s enjoying Seattle’s quality parks and greenspaces. A Madison, Wisconsin native, it was a much different experience for her as a kid, saying, “Growing up with the flat Midwest landscape, I do not think I will ever tire of seeing the mountains on a clear day!” 

In 2018 while working with IDDE, the team found evidence of fast-food grease being dumped into a catch basin that drains to the City’s MS4.

In 2020, Amanda’s work assignment changed to meet the challenges faced by SPU’s frontline staff due to the pandemic. She was tapped to help support one of SPU’s enhanced safety measures in response to the health crisis. Amanda shares, “I was able to help out with the deployment of temperature screening stations at SPU facilities as a part of the COVID-19 ICS work.

At the core of this work was making sure all frontline staff, who were continuing to report in and ensuring continuity of service and operations for customers, had access to necessary health screening supplies. As a part of the roll out of temperature screening, I got to work with ICS, Safety, and Warehouse teams as well as facility leads for Shared Services, Logistics, Water Ops, Drinking Water Quality, DWW System Maintenance, Source Control, SW Ops & HHW, Watershed Management, Construction Management, among others.” She adds, “I appreciated the opportunity to connect with workgroups across the utility I don’t normally get the chance to work with.” 

Our thanks to Amanda for her continued work throughout the Utility and Seattle. We appreciate her taking the time to email with us for this project.