Using Sandbags

Use sandbags to create a temporary flood barrier. October 15 through March 15 Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) provides free, filled sandbags for pickup (up to 25 per household or business) at four Seattle locations. Learn more and see a list of sandbag pick-up locations.

SPU offers this limited number of sandbags to households or business owners in flood-prone areas during autumn and winter. If you've had or almost had flooding in the past, consider using sandbags.

Sandbags don't seal out water but can help redirect the flow of water and protect property from debris. Sandbags must be used with caution because it is illegal to divert water to your neighboring properties.


Sandbag Tips

  • Buy sandbags at local hardware stores. They are often pre-filled and weigh at least 70 pounds. Do not use garbage bags, as they are too slick to stack.
  • You can fill and stack your own sandbags. Filling sandbags is a two-person operation. Properly filled and placed sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around, instead of through, buildings. 
  • Don't place your sandbags too early. Sandbags fall apart when exposed to continued wetting and drying for several months. If bags are placed too early, they may not be effective when needed.
  • Properly dispose of sandbags. Dispose of the sandbags properly. Do not throw away the contents in the street, down a drain, or in water bodies. A small amount of uncontaminated sand can be placed in your garbage container each collection period. Sandbags contaminated by flood water (generally considered polluted) should not be reused-please take them to the North Transfer Station or South Transfer Station. Regular garbage rates apply.

Reuse Your Sandbags

Sandbags that are wet from rain, but have not come into contact with floodwater, are safe to reuse, let them dry out in the sun, then:

  • Give them to someone who would use them.
  • Add a moderate amount to your garden as a soil amendment. Sand is useful to "break up" clay soil, making it less likely to hold too much water and allowing more air to reach plant roots. It can be added to any garden soil, if spread in moderate amounts, up to one inch spread over the surface and dug into the soil. Avoid adding sand if your garden soil is already sandy.