WSB exclusive: Hundreds of waterproofing leaks found at Myrtle, Beacon Reservoirs; “membranes” now being dug up and redone

July 13, 2009 at 8:18 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 45 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

West Seattle Blog has learned that Seattle Public Utilities has ordered waterproofing work dug up and redone at two newly covered city reservoirs — Myrtle Reservoir here in West Seattle (photo) and Beacon Hill Reservoir — because of hundreds of leaks discovered in the “membranes” applied to both projects.

To get to the membranes, the grass, dirt and “drain rock” over the reservoirs must all be removed, which is happening right now. SPU says it has not finished calculating the costs of the additional work but will front the money to the contractor until it is decided – potentially in court – who is to blame for the leaks, which SPU emphasizes do not pose any health risk.

In the case of Myrtle Reservoir, the transfer of part of the site to the Seattle Parks Department, for construction of a park on the newly created open space has been delayed a year already — we reported delays here and here — in June of last year, in fact, the site was seeded, the same month we were told “final acceptance testing” was planned.

Now, though, SPU says that because the waterproofing is being redone, the transfer to Parks may not happen before the end of November.

The waterproofing problems recently came to our attention because of questions from neighbors who live near Myrtle Reservoir. Several e-mailed WSB in the past week to ask why the Myrtle site was being “dug up again.” Today, SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan confirmed the problem to WSB and provided more information on what happened, how it was discovered, what’s being done and what happens next. (We also have spoken with another SPU manager and with the state Health Department.)

First, some background: The reservoir-covering program has been under way citywide, mostly (as explained in that link) for safety reasons that came to light after 9/11. These are reservoirs that previously were open-air.

Elsewhere in West Seattle, the covering work is also happening right now at the West Seattle Reservoir in Highland Park’s Westcrest Park area, but SPU says Myrtle and Beacon are the only two reservoirs where these waterproofing leaks have been found. All three projects – Westcrest, Myrtle and Beacon – have the same contractor, Mid-Mountain, but Westcrest hasn’t gotten to the waterproofing stage, since the lid (cover) is still being built, as we were shown during a site tour two months ago:

Beacon was shown off to the media in June of last year, in a tour (WSB coverage here) during which we shot video of the fully covered area before water was brought in:

Beacon is a 50-million-gallon reservoir, 10 times the 5-million-gallon size of Myrtle (the one at Westcrest is inbetween them, at 30 million gallons). Ryan says the extent of the leaks in the waterproofing membranes at both reservoirs was verified by electronic testing, after crews inspecting the reservoirs’ interiors noticed what he described as “drips.” He says the discovery happened several months ago and added, “Before we sign off on the completion of any project, Seattle Public Utilities always performs quality control inspection. Like any construction job—whether it’s a major public project or a home remodel — you have to look closely at the contractor’s work. It’s not unusual to find things that need to be fixed or improved.”

The membrane is made with a product called Procor, manufactured by Grace Construction (whose waterproofing products are detailed here). According to Ryan, Procor was chosen by a “design consultant” who is working on the reservoir projects, which he identified as MWH: “The designer specified what material we would use.” (A 2008 MWH presentation about efficiency aspects of the projects is online here, but doesn’t mention the waterproofing.)

In addition to Myrtle and Beacon, according to Ryan, Procor was also used to waterproof the Lincoln Reservoir on Capitol Hill, but he says testing indicates NO problems there.

SPU senior water planner Bill Wells explains that once the “drips” were detected, the electronic testing involved uncovering several concrete panels “down to the waterproofing” and trying to “pass an electric current through the reservoir concrete and up through the membrane.” When this was done on six 20 x 20 concrete panels at Beacon, they found “almost 100 breaches,” according to Wells; when it was done on “several” panels at Myrtle, what they found was “even more extensive” – more than 400 breaches.

“Most were small pinpoint holes,” Wells added, generally not visible – none bigger than 1/8 of an inch.

Ryan says the utility wants to reassure residents that there are no safety concerns resulting from those “pinpoint” leaks that have been discovered. Myrtle, for example, was put into service as a covered reservoir last year, and he says the water is “absolutely” safe. Ryan adds that “these projects are protecting water quality, replacing decades-old open reservoirs with state-of-the-art covered structures. This current issue is about construction quality — not water quality. We know the water from the reservoirs is safer because SPU has a comprehensive water quality monitoring program and regularly collects samples throughout the distribution system and from all its reservoirs. We test these samples for a range of microbiological and chemical constituents. Our testing methods are approved through a State laboratory accreditation process. We are regulated by the State Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water, which, with SPU, ensures the water quality within our distribution system and from reservoirs (including the Beacon and Myrtle reservoirs) meets or exceeds federal standards.”

We checked late today with Bob James from the state Health Department, and he confirmed that there had been no problems reported with the water from these reservoirs because of the waterproofing problems. He said, “There may be a little bit of leakage, but there’s very little public-health significance attached to it. Clearly there was a lot more (safety/surveillance/testing) work to do when these reservoirs were open to the atmosphere.” He echoed what Ryan had told us earlier – saying it’s vital to “stop and do it right” now, because these facilities are expected to be in service for a least a century.

So what happens next?

First – finding out how much extra SPU will have to front in the short run to get this work redone, and who pays for it in the long run. Ryan says a “change order” is being finalized right now and that by next week, that should yield specific cost numbers.

Next – who ultimately pays? Ryan says they are “working with the construction company and design consultant to determine responsibility” — the exact cause of the leaks — and have not “signed off on this project. … But the bottom line is, we believe the problems will be corrected without additional costs to our ratepayers.” He says there are at least three possible causes of the leaks – they could include the way the waterproofing material was applied, the way the concrete surface of the reservoirs was prepped before the material was applied, or whether the material itself was adequate for the waterproofing work in these projects.

Then – According to SPU, there is no question that the “redoing” could not wait until those questions were answered, so that’s why the work is under way now. Ryan says that at both Myrtle and Beacon Hill, and likely also at West Seattle (Westcrest), crews will use a rubberized “hot asphalt” process, said to be more expensive than the product which had been used for the application which is now being removed. Bill Wells, the senior water planner, explained that the “hot asphalt” comes in bricks which are heated before the material is applied the same way hot tar is put on roofs.

We will continue to pursue followups on this story, including the cost information promised next week, and comments we are pursuing from the waterproofing project manufacturers and the contractor, and of course we will continue to track the progress of the work. Once the city has finally accepted the Myrtle Reservoir project and turned it over to the Parks Department late this year (Ryan says the timeline will be similar for Beacon), it’ll take a few months to build the park, for which this was the final “schematic design”:

myrtleforsmallimage.jpg

Side note: Going back through WSB archives, we also found we had reported a glitch in the Parks/SPU coordination last year — Parks had done some designing based on what turned out to be an “imprecise grading survey” they said had been provided by SPU. (Here’s our story from June 2008.)

45 Comments

  1. Maybe the contractors can be fined and the $ can be used to dress up the chain-link-fence aesthetic planned for Myrtle Reservoir Park?
    .
    Thank you to WSB for this important ultra-local story. No way to learn about stuff like this without your reportage.

    Comment by Sage — 9:13 pm July 13, 2009 #

  2. that makes the SDOT story look like small potatoes. excellent reporting WSB. don’t forget to follow up with the cost, sure to be in the hundreds of thousands.

    Comment by Randy — 9:20 pm July 13, 2009 #

  3. I appreciate the information, but i don’t understand it. Should we be worried about the safety or is this just a cost issue? I find that’s a common problem when i am reading things here. You tend to regurgitate without providing content or analysis. You put up very long posts that by their length imply importance, but don’t necessarily demonstrate it in content. I do, though, appreciate your attention to west seattle.

    Comment by Barbara Fenway — 9:31 pm July 13, 2009 #

  4. Barbara, thank you for your comments.
    .
    We address the health issue (answer, both the city and the state say no health problems) in two places, including two paragraphs toward the end. This isn’t “regurgitation” of anything – it’s original reporting, but I apologize if it’s not making sense to you. It’s also not a “post” but rather an article, and fairly average in length for that (I worked in newspapers for some years as well as other media, and wrote and edited many much longer stories.)

    Regarding lack of analysis – That is an accurate observation. We don’t do analysis. We provide facts and information without opinion or analysis – we also provide many links for further information (a common and unfortunate omission in online journalism, since they are easy to do, but take a bit extra time) – but ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you care. It’s not our role to scream HEY! THIS IS AWFUL! or HEY! THIS IS GREAT!
    .
    Some news organizations choose to do editorials and analysis, and that is their prerogative, but what we do here is gather, process and present information, often in response to questions and concerns voiced by people who e-mail and call us – in this case, as I mention in the story, several nearby residents e-mailed to ask why the Myrtle site was being dug up again. One had actually spoken with SPU but still didn’t have all the information that I was able to obtain after a day of phone and e-mail exchanges as well as some online research and archive-checking.
    .
    Bottom line on this story: Portions of two major public-works projects are being torn up and redone because problems were discovered. The work is also delaying the start of long-awaited parks projects. Who’s to blame for those problems, and what it will cost – plus, who will ultimately foot the bill – is still being hashed out.
    .
    TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:07 pm July 13, 2009 #

  5. Barb – there’s a quote you may have missed
    (SPU spokesperson Andy) Ryan adds that “these projects are protecting water quality, replacing decades-old open reservoirs with state-of-the-art covered structures. This current issue is about construction quality — not water quality…”
    This was an interview… that’s content, not “regurgitation”. Would it be better to paraphrase the details and provide them in 10-second blurb form like KING5 News?

    Comment by MargL — 10:08 pm July 13, 2009 #

  6. Thanks for the detailed report. Sounds like a seam joining issue for the waterproof membrane, not a systemic failure. Probably a contractor responsibility, but this kind of thing can get complicated… and costly.

    Comment by wseye — 10:13 pm July 13, 2009 #

  7. Sweet – the Times linked the WSB story off their homepage under Local News!

    Comment by MargL — 10:31 pm July 13, 2009 #

  8. Is this why Beacon Hill/Jefferson Park is now a year behind schedule?

    Comment by Chris — 10:32 pm July 13, 2009 #

  9. SPU says the two are running on approximately the same timetable. But I am not familiar enough with that project to know all its details – I did go on the Beacon Reservoir tour one year ago (as mentioned above, with the video excerpt) largely to find out what an undergrounded reservoir is like, knowing that the same work was being done at two West Seattle locations, but didn’t extensively write the Beacon details. Just pulled a Google search because there were other journalists on the tour that day, from citywide TV and newspaper outlets, but stories aren’t coming up (I may not be using good keywords). Did find a mayoral news release that day that implied the park work was soon to start (the mayor spoke at the Beacon tour):
    http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail.asp?ID=8578&dept=40

    Comment by WSB — 10:49 pm July 13, 2009 #

  10. Faaaabulous reporting by our local WSB team! I appreciate the lack of analysis/opinion- that’s what journalism SHOULD BE! That’s for providing us with the facts and letting us use our own brains to come up with our own conclusion.

    Comment by EmmyJane — 11:02 pm July 13, 2009 #

  11. Very interesting story WSB. Thank You for the information.

    Comment by celeste17 — 11:12 pm July 13, 2009 #

  12. Interesting story. I’m hopeful that in these situations, then the contractor will have to do the re-work WITHOUT additional cost to SPU…and ultimately SPU’s customers.

    Comment by alki_2008 — 11:50 pm July 13, 2009 #

  13. Thanks WSB for the great info.
    I wondered what kind of screw up occurred when I drove past the
    site filled with heavy equipment at work last week.
    This is going to be expensive!
    Wondering if it will be expensive enough to bankrupt the contractor.
    So glad you are on the job!
    THANK YOU!

    Comment by old timer — 1:02 am July 14, 2009 #

  14. Great reporting, WSB. I find myself going to WSB more and more for the latest and most comprehensive reporting.
    Commenter Barbara, perhaps you just glazed over the article originally. WBS is not your typical blog of twittered thought. Some bits are short and purely informational(upcoming meetings and event notices), but this site has real reporting .If you go back and read the entire article, you’ll find it was laid out and written wonderfully, and provides the “who, what, when, where, how, and what’s next” of this important subject. Your comment that the reporting was “regurgitated” was untrue and unfair.
    I agree with MargL. Local TV news is infotainment. It’s there to promote the network and increase ad revenue in 30 second sound bites, NOT to address and explain real issues to viewers.
    Major props to WSB!

    Comment by morcaffeineplease — 6:09 am July 14, 2009 #

  15. Congrats on the great (thorough) story. That it’s a scoop? The frosting on the cake. This is why WSB is different from the rest — professional journalism and that’s part of a micro-community. Very rare. And very impressive!

    Comment by charlabob and catlbob — 6:34 am July 14, 2009 #

  16. Will this contractor be working on the viaduct/tunnel?

    Comment by 56bricks — 9:03 am July 14, 2009 #

  17. And y’all just got credit for the story on KIRO radio.. Nice Job !

    Comment by Mr. JT — 9:04 am July 14, 2009 #

  18. Excellent job breaking this story, WSB. =)

    Comment by D.C. — 9:11 am July 14, 2009 #

  19. Good work WSB

    Comment by 37Ray — 10:30 am July 14, 2009 #

  20. I live one block from this project and without WSB I’d never know why this project has been delayed so many times. Excellent reporting WSB!!!

    Since so much work has to be done to fix this, will SPU consider moving that horrid chain link fence and utility structure to a less obvious place??? It is so ugly, right in the middle of the park space and it keeps people from enjoying the best viewpoint there. Great design (sarcasm).

    Comment by swimcat — 10:35 am July 14, 2009 #

  21. Impressive work, WSB.

    Comment by Jeremiah — 11:39 am July 14, 2009 #

  22. Should have used PolyUrea for the waterproofing….

    Comment by Padraic M — 12:31 pm July 14, 2009 #

  23. WSB you rock! What excellent reporting and way to break this story before any other news organization. I have lived across the street from this mess for 2-1/2 years and cannot begin to explain my frustration with the way Mid Mountain and SPU has handled communication around the “repairs” and leaky lid. As a public project, this is inexcusable. In the meantime, we all need to keep a close eye on what is going on there and make sure that we are getting straight answers on the repair work and the progress.
    And on another note…Let’s all plan to have a very big party at the park when it opens.

    Comment by KR — 12:32 pm July 14, 2009 #

  24. I hope WSB will continue to follow up when SPU tries to pass along the cost of this shoddy workmanship to the end consumer, us. How much does it cost to have a well drilled? I want OFF the Seattle “grid.” I don’t trust it. As a homeowner, I can’t afford to keep paying for all these City screw-ups!

    Comment by Save Our Streets Seattle — 12:47 pm July 14, 2009 #

  25. If this does go to court, it will take some time but yes, we will keep reporting on it. And we will also be following up next week until the promised cost estimates of what they’re fronting now are made available. We also have some followup questions out today that we hope to have answered before day’s end for a shorter followup – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:04 pm July 14, 2009 #

  26. look at that – you’re on the http://www.seattletimes.com “front page”- way to go WSB!!

    Comment by seattleamiga — 1:15 pm July 14, 2009 #

  27. Never fear, the insurance companies for all these entities will figure out who will pay for what, in the backroom, the way they always do. So we will continue to pay for higher insurance rates, not higher public utility bills.

    Comment by bluecella — 1:49 pm July 14, 2009 #

  28. WSB you are AWESOME

    Comment by Rob — 1:57 pm July 14, 2009 #

  29. was a geosynthetic liner system ever considered for water proofing the tops of these two reservoirs, it may have been a better alternative instead of what your facing now

    Comment by Stan — 2:34 pm July 14, 2009 #

  30. I heard the Waterproofer was from out of State. Thats what you get when you dont keep the work local and you go cheap..

    Comment by jason — 2:39 pm July 14, 2009 #

  31. I work for a local waterproofing company (not the one that applied either the Myrtle or Beacon waterproofing) and I really feel for the sub contractor who did apply it and Mid-Mountain. It’s a terrible thing for companies in the construction industry to have to deal with all the stress of law suits.

    Regarding the Procor membrane, it is a very high quality waterproof membrane that, if applied correctly, would have been completely sufficient. Procor has been used in many vertical and horizontal applications throughout the Seattle Metro area. According to the spec’s for those projects, however, the applicator was only required to install a 60 mil layer (1.5mm or roughly 1/16″) to the lid of the reservoirs which is standard for VERTICAL waterproofing, not the standard 120 mils for HORIZONTAL conditions like this. However, any WR Grace Co. approved applicator should have noticed this and asked the question before accepting a contract for the work.

    As for the hot rubberized waterproofing system that is going to be applied to the Westcrest, and now Myrtle and Beacon, as being more expensive, that is not necessarily true. In comparison to the applied 60 mil Procor system, yes the hot rubber is more expensive. But in comparison to the 120 mils that should have been applied, hot rubber is the less expensive option. However, manufacturers for hot rubberized membranes require that 24 to 72 hour flood testing be conducted and passed before materials are warranted. Along with the mentioned electronic testing that will surely be used on the new membranes, I would be surprised if future leaks became an issue again.

    Comment by JP — 3:19 pm July 14, 2009 #

  32. Mid-Mountain was the “low bidder”. You get what you pay for! Similar bad work all over town.

    Comment by brian c. — 3:44 pm July 14, 2009 #

  33. “Low Bidder” doesn’t mean anything in quality. 90% of commercial construction goes to the lowest bidder. And since this money is coming from your tax dollars, aren’t you glad that SPU didn’t pick the guy that was $500,000 higher?

    Comment by JP — 4:05 pm July 14, 2009 #

  34. Yes, the sub-contractor who did the waterproofing is out of business. They were from Minnesota. They company doing the hot asphalt is also from Minnesota and they have many of the same employees funny coincidence!?!

    Comment by ohhyeah!! — 5:25 pm July 14, 2009 #

  35. the people who post comments such as “shoddy workmanship”, “low bidder, you get what you pay for” and “Wondering if it will be expensive enough to bankrupt the contractor”. should shut there traps or at the least know what the hell there talking about. the waterproofing was applied as to mwh specs, the sub-contractor expressed there concern numourous times.

    Comment by NWTFYTA — 6:10 pm July 14, 2009 #

  36. The Contractor cant be blamed in any way. The plans are drawn up and they are constantly supervised by the City. SDOT inspectors are there daily, constantly supervising and directing every move. They City did everything but actually build it.

    The City cant supervise curb and gutter, they need to be out and away from contracting period.

    Comment by Me — 10:29 pm July 14, 2009 #

  37. Where’s the koolaid ya’ll drinking? Questioning something does not mean disrepect. I am asking the writer to offer useful information. I am not an engineer. I have never built a reservoir cover. What is important news here? How am i supossed to know who is telling the truth when the only people you went to for information are the people involved. Your headline screams “WSB Exclusive” so that tells me this is important information. Then i read to try to find out what it is i should pay attention to and there is only a regurgitation of facts that don’t make sense to me.

    Thank you for taking my previous observations seriously. I think if you provided more analysis or at least a sense that you know what is important that i would find these kinds of stories helpful. The only thing i came away with was the fact that they’re digging up the covers, no one knows why, but the WSB told you that in an exclusive.

    Comment by Barbara Fenway — 10:37 pm July 14, 2009 #

  38. Again, it’s a great in-depth news story. Thanks WSB. I believe that in the parlance of the trade “Exclusive” doesn’t mean any more than the fact that it’s news you won’t read elsewhere (to the publication’s knowledge).

    I’m looking forward to hearing how much repair will cost.

    Comment by Adam Hyla — 3:54 pm July 15, 2009 #

  39. I use that kind of language sparingly – frankly, much of what we publish every day could either be labeled “exclusive” or “first on wsb” or something like the overly hyped labeling we used in my former profession (TV news), but unless it’s an especially notable story, like this, I won’t clutter things further with that, there’s no point. After we published this, it was showcased (with attribution to us) in citywide media sources from the Seattle Times to all three major broadcast news organizations and also by the Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill neighborhood-news sites, so that was some verification of its noteworthiness. We have a little more info to publish today/tonight by means of a followup … TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:00 pm July 15, 2009 #

  40. Why are the contractors being blamed? With the dozens of inspections, and permits, and impact reports that had to be done, why isn’t the city being blamed? As much oversight on everything they had on everything else, then they just ignored the actual work. Seems kinda wasteful to have as many planners, inspectors, city employees in suits walking around, as there were workers actually doing the job. Especially when they apparently didn’t pay attention to the most important part. Not as glamorous as meetings, and Powerpoint slides I guess.

    Comment by Lee — 11:38 pm July 15, 2009 #

  41. “Barbara” We can grab our torches and go on a witch hunt as some of the remarks suggest. However I would rather pursue the truth as you are. It is difficult for WSB to provide an analysis when they have not, as you have so aptly pointed out, researched the issue adequately. You said, “How am I supposed to know who is telling the truth when the only people you went to for information are the people involved.” Unbiased opinions are certainly key to help discover the truth; yet in our culture unbiased opinions usually have an agenda hidden somewhere. They are as Henry David Thoreau stated “mere smoke of opinion.” Let’s look at the facts presented. There were three reservoirs waterproofed: Beacon, Myrtle, and Lincoln. All the reservoirs were constructed by the same contractor. Two of the three reservoirs are leaking. The first one constructed, Lincoln, is NOT leaking. You have to ask yourself, “why is this, if the contractor is the same and the waterproofing material is the same, what might have changed?” JP notes, “Regarding Procor membrane, it is a very high quality waterproof membrane that, if applied correctly, would have been completely sufficient.” This is a true statement and can be attested to by other “waterproofing consultants” like IBA Consultants West, LLC; there is wisdom in a multitude of council. I believe the article itself points out that Procor works, Lincoln is proof. With this truth the assumptions of SPU questioning “…whether the material itself was adequate for the waterproofing work in these projects.” can be eliminated. Unfortunately without seeing the inspection reports it is difficult to verify whether the other two assumptions are accurate. There is a third party investigation floating around that would shed a fair amount of light on this issue. JP has another good point in the above quote, he says, “if applied correctly.” He has his facts correct. The specification does in-fact specify the material to be installed in a way that the manufacturer does not recommend, which was a change that came about from the new “design consultant” MWH on Myrtle and Beacon projects. If anyone were to truly delve into this issue they would likely find that Grace was submarined and that this hot rubber alternative is merely a smoke screen clouding the true root of the problem that lies in the design.

    Comment by Don Justice — 9:32 am July 16, 2009 #

  42. Ah, its sounds like Don Justice may be onto something (as well have some insider knowledge). Did you say that the design consultant for the two leaking projects was the same and the project that worked had a different consultant? Someone should investigate whether this is a unrelated correlation or a cause and effect. With a design change that installs the product “in a way that the manufacturer does not recommend”, I’d put my money on the second.

    Comment by Mark Herrick — 11:00 am July 16, 2009 #

  43. “Mark Herrick – Did you say that the design consultant for the two leaking projects was the same and the project that worked had a different consultant?” Yes, that is what I am saying.

    Comment by Don Justice — 11:59 am July 16, 2009 #

  44. First, thanks to WSB for once again providing the best coverage of a story affecting my neighborhood, Beacon HIll, that I’m going to find anywhere.

    Second, after reading the comments I can’t even begin to express my dismay at the implications of these sentences: “Where’s the koolaid ya’ll drinking? Questioning something does not mean disrepect. I am asking the writer to offer useful information. I am not an engineer. I have never built a reservoir cover. What is important news here? How am i supossed to know who is telling the truth when the only people you went to for information are the people involved.”

    The Kool-Aid that people in the comments are drinking is the same Kool-Aid Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Thomas Paine, and all the rest of ‘em drank. The idea of a democratic republic is that an informed electorate can evaluate the information they are given, exercise their own judgment, and act on the opinions they form from their own personal analysis of what they’ve learned. The hope is that the majority of them will come to the best conclusion.

    That may seem like an awfully Big Idea when we’re talking about a news story, but it’s an ideal that was embraced by the American news media in the 20th Century, especially after WWII when the struggle against totalitarianism starkly highlighted the problem of mass media “news” sources that are actually mouthpieces for opinion and dogma. Unfortunately, in this country, the past 30 years have seen an steady erosion of the business model of giving people information. Instead, a lot of the electorate has chosen to give their attention to the people who are pushing opinions and ideology disguised as information. The idea of forming one’s own opinion based on information presented shouldn’t seem like an onerous burden, but as this comment thread shows, to some people it does.

    What’s all this have to do with this story about waterproofing? Everything. But even more so it has to do with the beauty of a local resource like WSB. You in West Seattle have a treasure here, and I can only hope it proves to be a model that works elsewhere too. We’ve got some good neighborhood bloggers elsewhere in the city, but most of them are simply unable to provide the sort of professional journalism that West Seattle is getting. That’s not a dig — it’s incredibly hard work to do something like this, and to make it work you have to take a huge gamble. The payoff to the community in getting a true news source instead of poorly disguised advocacy, or the “details at 11!” type of false hype and manufactured outrage is huge.

    Okay, rant off. Thanks for the info, WSB.

    Comment by Beacon Hillbilly — 9:24 am July 17, 2009 #

  45. BH, I don’t know who you are but thank you. I have never been able to give voice to it quite that eloquently but that is our main goal here: Provide as much information as we possibly can. When we started this site, we offered our opinions. And then we realized that what was really lacking was information, not opinions. Everyone’s got one and just because someone has a media source (whether it’s a newspaper or TV station or website or whatever) doesn’t make their opinion worth anything more than someone else’s, so that’s why we don’t do editorials or reviews, though we give a space for others to voice theirs.
    .
    I am achingly aware that the information is only the first step and that there are more layers in stories like this that need to be pursued – we are doing some of that (and some other difficult stories around here like stalled developments) but for starters, at least there’s information which (as is the case for much of what we cover) just wasn’t available before. Period. Or was available, but hard to find, or nobody knew where to look.
    .
    Whenever possible, we explain how we got our stories, and where we looked for information, in hopes that people will learn (and we know they do! the Parcel Viewer and 911 log and other resources are often cited by people here, once they’ve seen us quote them a few times) how to pursue it themselves. And we continue to learn, ourselves – so often, we’ll “start” the story and someone will turn up with a comment, e-mail, phone call that provides yet more information making the story even better.
    .
    TR (back to covering another story!)

    Comment by WSB — 9:35 am July 17, 2009 #

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