• Lake Washington Ship Canal Lake Washington Ship Canal


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Mission Statement

The Lake Washington Ship Canal, which runs through the city of Seattle, Washington, connects the fresh water body of Lake Washington with the salt water inland sea of Puget Sound. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks accommodate the approximately 20-foot difference in water level between Lake Washington and the Sound. The Canal runs east/west, and connects Union Bay, Lake Union, the Montlake Cut, Portage Bay, the Fremont Cut, Salmon Bay, and Shilshole Bay, with the Sound, which empties into the Pacific Ocean.

The locks and associated facilities serve three purposes:

  • To maintain the water level of the fresh water Lake Washington and Lake Union at 20 to 22 feet above sea level.
  • To prevent the mixing of sea waterfrom Puget Sound with the fresh water of the lakes (saltwater intrusion).
  • To move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa.

A fish ladder is integrated into the locks for migration of anadromous fish, notably salmon.

The grounds feature a visitors center, as well as the Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Gardens.


As a Seattle area resident you may already appreciate the fascinating history, beautiful environment and ongoing benefits of projects the Corps maintains for the public. You probably already know volunteers play an invaluable role in helping the Corps meet its recreation and environmental stewardship program goals. During the fiscal year 2014, 48,200 volunteers donated nearly 1.5 million hours - the equivalent of 849 full time employees.

The Locks is looking for individuals interested in getting connected with volunteer opportunities at the Locks. There are tons of opportunities, and by responding to this letter you’ll receive quarterly volunteering opportunities for upcoming events.


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