West Seattle Junction scenes: Climate-action encouragement rally; Pathfinder wreath sales; Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast reminder

November 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm | In Environment, How to help, Seen around town, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

Just back from The Junction, where this was all happening at California/Alaska at noontime:

With the United Nations climate-change conference about to start in Paris, West Seattleites rallied in “encouragement” of climate action:

This was one of many rallies, small and large, planned for today.

Also on the southwest corner of the Walk-All-Ways intersection today: Wreath sellers from Pathfinder K-8. The school community makes and sells wreaths every year to raise money for environmental education and will be in The Junction every Sunday during the holiday season:

Just across the intersection, at the south end of the official Farmers’ Market zone, the Kiwanis Club of West Seattle was bubbling with enthusiasm about its annual Pancake Breakfast next Saturday.

Everyone’s invited to the Masonic Center (40th/Edmunds) 7 am-11 am on Saturday (December 5th) – if you don’t have tickets yet, buy yours for a discount online right now – $8 online, $10 at the door.

VIDEO: Dedicating Seattle’s first mosque raingarden in South Delridge

November 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

This ribbon-cutting in South Delridge celebrated a project that was two years in the making: Completion of the first raingarden/cistern project at a Seattle mosque.

The installation dedicated this past Friday at AlNoor Mosque is not just functional for reducing the runoff that goes into the combined-sewer system, it’s also a teaching tool for the students of Hope Academy, a K-8 private school that’s co-located on the grounds.

Hope Academy’s Mohamed Ahmed talked about the project:

Teachers and students are now involved in maintenance of the raingardens – there are two on the grounds.

Along with runoff reduction and environmental education, the project is expected to help with basement flooding issues at the historic brick building on the grounds of what was once St. James Lutheran Church. Those on hand to celebrate Friday included reps from the project partners at ECOSS (Environmental Coalition Of South Seattle) the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, Seattle Public Utilities, and RainWise, which continues to offer rebates for cistern and raingarden installations in certain target areas.

VIDEO: Freedom for 13 cleaned-up birds from oiled White Center pond; 61 remain in rehab

November 18, 2015 at 11:44 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, White Center, Wildlife | 17 Comments

Our phone video is the first look at post-cleanup freedom for 13 of the birds captured at the oil-contaminated White Center stormwater-retention pond. A team from PAWS just brought them back to the area and joined state and county reps in opening the carriers and watching them go free. We first reported on the pond problem a week and a half ago; last Friday, the state announced that a WC food-manufacturing business, La Mexicana, had taken responsibility. They say the pond is now clean enough for the birds to return to it safely, but they were released this morning across the street at Steve Cox Memorial Park. As you can see in the video, all 13 brought back by PAWS this morning were mallards; crews have captured 78 in all, a mix of mallards and Canada geese. Four birds did not survive, including two that were euthanized, according to the state Ecology Department.

ADDED 2:20 PM: A few more photos and additional information about today’s release and the cleanup:

Ecology spokesperson Larry Altose says oil-recovery efforts wrapped up at the pond yesterday, as contractor National Response Corporation removed the last cleanup materials. NRC’s subcontractor Focus Wildlife captured the oiled birds and, Altose says, “housed and treated the birds at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society Wildlife Center in Lynnwood,” where, he adds, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife “supplied a bird rescue trailer to provide extra space for the effort.”

Of the 61 birds still in treatment after today’s release, he adds, 27 are mallards and 34 are geese. All four of the birds that died were mallards. A WDFW spokesperson confirmed that this is the largest bird-rescuing operation in our state in some time, in terms of spill recovery.

Meantime, as for the birds released today …

… they were last seen taking a few test flights around the field. If you see oiled or distressed birds, WDFW asks, call 800-22-BIRDS, but don’t “approach or handle the wildlife,” the state asks, adding that “WDFW asks dog and cat owners in the area to keep their pets under control, as oiled birds are less able to escape from animal attacks.”

P.S. In addition to reporting to the state, the federal EPA also tells us they are interested in information about environmental violations – here’s how to report them. (You can also call the local office directly at 206-553-8306.)

FOLLOWUP: Delridge/Orchard overflow blamed on non-watertight covers

November 16, 2015 at 9:45 pm | In Delridge, Environment, Utilities, West Seattle news | No Comments

(WSB photo from Sunday)

Seattle Public Utilities has figured out part of what went wrong before a sewer overflow flooded Orchard just north of Delridge on Sunday (here’s our original report). From SPU’s Andy Ryan:

Crews were in the vicinity again today investigating the cause of the sewer discharge in the right of way near Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street. They determined that the overflow was caused by two maintenance-hole covers that were not watertight. We are exploring ways of sealing the holes to prevent future overflows at the location.

Crews also found that the new Delridge combined-sewer-overflow (CSO) project construction is working as designed.

By Sunday evening (11/15), crews responded to and contained the sewage overflow. They removed warning signs once the area had been cleared, and the road was reopened to traffic. We will let you know when we have figured out how, and when, we seal the maintenance holes that caused the overflow.

SOMETHING TO SAY? Comment time for Avalon 7-11 tank swap

November 16, 2015 at 10:03 am | In Environment, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | No Comments

The only West Seattle application of note on today’s city Land Use Information Bulletin is for 3280 SW Avalon Way. While Avalon applications tend to be for apartment buildings, not this one – it’s for the 7-11 at 35th/Avalon, which is seeking to replace three 10,000-gallon fuel tanks with two 20,000-gallon tanks. The land-use application requires an environmental determination – whether it’s “non-significant” or requires a full review – and notes that this might be your only chance to comment on the project. You can comment through November 29th; here’s how.

UPDATE: Flooded road at Orchard/Delridge after sewage overflow

November 15, 2015 at 8:03 am | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

8:03 AM: Multiple texters report road flooding has closed Orchard at Delridge. We’ll be checking on it shortly.

10:06 AM: We’ve since learned from Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin that this is a sewage overflow:

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has responded this morning to a sewage overflow in West Seattle at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street. The sewage is discharging north on Delridge to SW Myrtle Street and eventually overflowing into Longfellow Creek. SPU crews have posted signs alerting residents to stay out of the water, which may be contaminated. Orchard Street near Delridge Way is closed while spill response and drainage and wastewater crews contain the overflow and begin the clean-up. The volume of the spill is unknown at this time.

This is primarily happening on the east and north sides of the Delridge/Orchard intersection. You might recall that SPU worked in recent months on what was supposed to be a combined-sewer-overflow-control project, so we’ll be following up to see what went wrong.

9:36 PM: While Orchard east of Delridge was still closed in late afternoon, it’s now open, but narrowed – one lane each way, with an area blocked off at curbside on the westbound side for a short distance. No crews on scene now so we’d have to guess this will continue into the morning commute; we’ll check back by 7 am or so.

FOLLOWUP: White Center company takes responsibility for oil spill; 51 birds affected

November 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, White Center, Wildlife | 27 Comments

(WSB photo from last weekend, as wildlife rescuers capture an oiled Canada goose)
One week after a neighbor noticed oil contaminating a stormwater-retention pond in White Center, the state Ecology Department announced that a food company has taken responsibility. La Mexicana says it was transporting oil that accidentally spilled and will pay the costs of cleanup and wildlife rehabilitation; 51 birds have been captured for cleaning and treatment, says the state, and one had to be euthanized. Full details of the state’s announcement are on our partner site White Center Now.

Admiral Neighborhood Association, report #1: Port-meeting preview

November 11, 2015 at 11:07 am | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Recent Terminal 5 photo by Long Bach Nguyen, showing two ships from the Shell drilling fleet, Tor Viking and Harvey Explorer)
The Port of Seattle‘s Terminal 5 hasn’t been entirely idle since its official closure in July of last year, but the Shell ships are much smaller than what the port expects to see after its planned “modernization” program.

The original modernization plan did not include a full environmental-impact review, you might recall, but area residents pushed for one, and the port finally announced last month that it’s going to get one done because of the scale of the potential tenants it’s talking with.

Here’s where you come in: Tomorrow night, the port invites you to a meeting to focus on the scope of the environmental-impact review. And those concerned West Seattleites are hoping to have your help in shaping it.

One of them, Jim Wojciechowski, was at last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting to make one more pitch for participation.

“Public comment is what’s going to keep the momentum going” for a project responsive to West Seattleites’ concerns, he said. Neighbors are trying to “mitigate the damages,” said Wojciechowski – noise, traffic, and air pollution are top issues. So this is the time when the port will “scope” to see what the Environmental Impact Statement should include.

Wojciechowski stressed that “it’s the public input that’s going to determine” what happens as the port uses a consultant to prepare the EIS. “They’re bringing in big ships … and they’ll be bringing in smaller ships too. They’re sitting there running their engines while they’re there for a few days,” and that’s why neighbors are “pushing for shore power.” Every major port on the West Coast is already implementing or planning for shore power, according to Wojciechowski.

He also pointed out that since Terminal 5 closed more than a year ago, it’s generating no truck traffic right now, and “everyone’s complacent.” Meantime, the potential for train “quiet zones” is something that appeals to neighbors – but it would be costly. Finally, he reminded attendees that the port is holding an “online open house” right now. As ANA president David Whiting reiterated, it’s collecting comments on what the EIS should study – what potential impacts the project might have – not comments on whether or not the modernization project should happen.

Before the meeting, we had asked port spokesperson Peter McGraw about the format of Thursday night’s meeting (5:30 pm-8:30 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California SW). Here’s what he provided:

Open House with stations: 5:30 – 6:00 pm
Presentation: 6:00 – 6:30 pm
Q&A (outside of comments) 6:30 – 6:45 pm
Public Comment: 6:45 – 8:00 pm – could go later if needed
Resume Open House: 8:00 – 8:30 pm

Again, the port’s official information on the process, including tomorrow night’s meeting, is here.

P.S. Separate from the official port process, T-5 neighbors also have a new online petition.

P.P.S. Our second report on the ANA meeting, on an unrelated but even more impassioned topic, is still in the works.

FOLLOWUP: 14 oiled birds rescued at White Center spill scene; investigation continues

November 9, 2015 at 11:37 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 8 Comments

(WSB photo from Sunday)

On the third day of cleanup at an oil-contaminated White Center stormwater-retention pond, we’ve just obtained the newest information from state Ecology Department spokesperson Larry Altose:

Workers made progress on Saturday and Sunday, rescuing oiled waterfowl and removing oil from the pond near 13th Avenue Southwest and Southwest 100th Street in unincorporated King County.

The Washington Department of Ecology is coordinating the response, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Ecology has hired a spill response contractor and a wildlife rescue organization for the cleanup.

The spilled material appears to be about 50 to 100 gallons cooking oil that entered the pond via the county stormwater drainage system. County and Ecology staff have been tracing storm drains to search for the source of the spill. No additional oil has entered the lake since a citizen first reported the spill late Friday afternoon.

Cooking and other edible oils, while less toxic to wildlife, still cause environmental harm. When birds contact the oil it coats the feathers so that the animals lose insulation and buoyancy. Oil damages habitat for other aquatic life, reducing oxygen levels and creating physical impacts on the water surface and shoreline.

Crews from Focus Wildlife International have captured 14 oiled birds, four mallard ducks and 10 Canada geese. The birds received initial treatment near the scene in the organization’s special trailer. They were transported for further treatment at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s Wildlife Rescue Center in Lynnwood.

Workers hope to capture approximately 20 other oiled birds, some of which have flown to other ponds, lakes or fields in the area. No wildlife deaths have been reported.

Meanwhile, other workers continue to tend oil spill cleanup materials placed in the pond to collect the oil, which has spread into a slick over much of the surface. Crews succeeded in preventing oil from draining out of the pond, which flows into nearby Hicklin Lake.

The cleanup has reduced the amount of oil seen on the pond over the past two days. Ecology’s contractor will measure the amount of oil recovered in cleanup materials to better determine the size of the spill.

The on-site response effort, which involved 25 people on Saturday and 18 on Sunday, continues to step down to about 9 responders today.

Our first report, on Saturday, is here; our Sunday followup is here. As we’ve noted previously, this county-owned area of unincorporated King County had already been the subject of extensive cleanup efforts – focused on the land, rather than the water, because of problems with encampments and drug use during the non-rainy months – here’s a report from last month, published on our partner site White Center Now.

FOLLOWUP: Another oiled bird rescued at White Center pond

November 8, 2015 at 1:50 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, White Center | 7 Comments

As promised, we went back this morning to the White Center stormwater-retention pond where the state and its contractors are cleaning up what’s believed to be a cooking-oil “spill” (yes, as has been pointed out, it could also have been intentional dumping) and rescuing oiled birds. The Canada goose caught while we were there late Saturday was the first bird captured for cleanup, a state Ecology Department spokesperson told us today, right before they caught a second one:

(Aside from a honk of protest, the goose didn’t resist.) Oiled feathers impair a variety of vital functions for birds, as explained here, including waterproofing and temperature regulation; we learned at the spill scene yesterday that rescued birds would be warmed on site and then transported to PAWS for rehabilitation. We expect to find out more tomorrow about where the investigation of the spill stands and how the birds are doing.

West Seattle weekend scene: Friends of Lincoln Park get ‘green and grubby’

November 7, 2015 at 9:21 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 2 Comments

On this Green Seattle Day, the Friends of Lincoln Park led one of two West Seattle planting parties – and it was big. According to FLiP – whose Mark Ahlness shared the photo – before the day was done, 34 volunteers participated in planting 300 trees and shrubs, west and south of the north ball field, where the group’s been working much of the year. Read about how they got “green and grubby,” and see more photos, by going here.

UPDATE: Wildlife experts rescuing oiled birds after White Center pond spill

November 7, 2015 at 3:09 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, White Center, Wildlife | 19 Comments

(Photo added 5:32 pm, looking southward over the pond, toward SW 102nd)

FIRST REPORT, 3:09 PM: Wildlife experts are hoping to help more than a dozen birds struggling with oiled feathers after a spill in a White Center pond. A reader texted us this photo:

King County has sent this news release:

Crews are responding Saturday afternoon to an oil spill that was discovered in a King County stormwater retention pond in White Center.

An estimated 20 to 50 gallons of what is believed to be cooking oil was found floating in the pond, which sits along 13th Avenue Southwest at Southwest 100th Street in unincorporated King County. Lab analysis of the oil will determine its exact composition.

Employees with the Water and Land Resources Division (WLRD) of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks were at the pond this morning, along with Washington Department of Ecology spill response personnel, to assess the spill and determine its source.

An oil-spill response team from NRC Environment was also on site this morning to contain and clean up the oil from the pond. A crew trained in cleaning wildlife was on its way to the pond to capture and clean the estimated 20 waterfowl that appeared to have been in contact with the oily water.

Stormwater system experts with WLRD will look into how the oil got into the retention pond, which accepts runoff from the surrounding neighborhood and helps clean stormwater runoff before it continues downstream to Hicklin Lake.

Shorelines along the White Center pond system have been a focus of cleanup efforts we’ve covered on partner site White Center Now, but usually the problems have been on the shore, not in the water.

5:17 PM UPDATE: We’re just back from the scene, where we talked with a Department of Ecology rep; others on the scene include NRC (spill response) and Focus Wildlife, the contractor there to help with the birds. While we were there, they captured one Canada goose that had been wandering in busy SW 102nd on the south side of the scene, apparently unable to fly because of the oil.

They found out about the oil because of a nearby resident who watches the area and often photographs birds; they haven’t traced the source yet but because of its smell and consistency, they’re fairly certain it’s cooking oil. What looks like a white boom around the edges of the pond is actually absorbent material intended to soak up anything that can’t be cleaned up.

The responders were going to work until it got dark and then return at first light tomorrow. The rescued birds were going to be warmed in a truck on site, and then taken to PAWS for rehabilitation. Besides the wandering goose, we saw a group of ducks milling on the sidewalk along the pond’s western side; the Ecology rep said they’d been there all day.

Most of the oil, he added, was on the north end of the pond.

SATURDAY: Help look for salmon on and in Longfellow Creek

November 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 4 Comments

(Quick clip of salmon in Longfellow Creek last year, contributed by Josh)
Tom e-mailed earlier this week to report spotting salmon in Longfellow Creek, by Dragonfly Pavilion in North Delridge – two last Friday, and “four big ones” last Monday. If you want to go look for salmon, tomorrow morning brings an excellent chance – go on an educational walk 10 am-11:30 am Saturday with Puget Soundkeeper volunteers. You’ll learn about their ongoing study of pre-spawning mortality, too. Meet up at the pavilion (4107 28th SW); you’re advised to “wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet/stinky.”

P.S. On the other side of West Seattle, no salmon sightings in Fauntleroy Creek yet, as of our last check.

Seen off West Seattle: NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown visiting after Arctic Ocean research

October 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm | In Environment, Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Thanks to Gary Jones for sharing his photo from Alki Point. The newest notable sighting at sea off West Seattle is NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown (R-104), the federal agency’s largest ship at 274 feet. It’s docked on the Duwamish River tonight, as shown on MarineTraffic.com; the latest fleet report from NOAA says the ship arrived from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, after studying “bioeffects of the Chukchi Sea,” described further:

Assess habitat conditions that influence biodiversity and distribution of benthic infaunal communities, contaminants, and chemical body burdens of resident organisms as measures of environmental health in the bays and lagoons in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the vicinity of proposed oil transport pipelines. Baseline data will be essential for monitoring pollution control effectiveness and National Resource Damage Assessment activities in the event of a spill.

The Chukchi Sea is where Shell had drilled before announcing earlier this fall that it would end its Arctic Ocean exploration TFN. The Ronald H. Brown is homeported in Charleston, South Carolina; no word how long it’ll be here.

TERMINAL 5: Port of Seattle will do an Environmental Impact Statement for modernization project, after all

October 21, 2015 at 8:14 pm | In Environment, Port of Seattle, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

A big development tonight in the Port of Seattle‘s plan to “modernize” Terminal 5 in West Seattle – and in neighbors’ push for a full environmental review.

The Port announced tonight that it will be creating an Environmental Impact Statement for the modernization project after all. It had not been planning on one – believing, as reps told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition in July, that while it would have bigger ships, it wouldn’t have bigger cargo volume. But neighbors had campaigned for an EIS, even placing roadside signs promoting a website that pointed to a petition, as reported here back in August:

Then, there were hints that the tide on this might be turning, including a mention at this month’s Southwest District Council meeting that a potential tenant with whom the port was talking would have needs beyond what had been anticipated when the port said it didn’t need to do a major review. And now tonight, port reps sent word of the plan for the EIS. A website is already live, with both an “online open house” that you can explore at any time – officially, tomorrow (October 22nd) through Nov. 23rd – and word of a “scoping meeting” set for 5:30-8:30 pm November 12th at The Hall at Fauntleroy. (The process is explained here.)

Shortly after receiving word of the planned EIS from community advocates (thank you), we also received a news release from port spokesperson Peter McGraw. We asked him a followup question on whether this was an indication an announcement of a tenant is imminent; his reply – “We continue to have discussions with potential customers.” You can read the full news release here.

YOU CAN HELP: See which Duwamish Alive! sites hope to see you

October 13, 2015 at 11:34 am | In Environment, How to help, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(Roxhill Bog volunteer – WSB photo from April 2015 Duwamish Alive! day)

Update as the fall edition of Duwamish Alive! – simultaneous work parties to help Seattle’s only river and its watershed – gets closer (this Saturday, October 17th, 10 am-2 pm): Coalition coordinator Sharon Leishman tells WSB that these West Seattle sites are in most need of more volunteer signups:

T-107 PARK, both kayaks and habitat restoration. DRCC, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (this is the first time we have the kayak cleanup near the mouth of the river. Double kayaks are used, no experience needed, all equipment and instruction provided.) – 4700 West Marginal Way SW

ROXHILL BOG - habitat restoration with Seattle Parks and Friends of Roxhill – 2850 SW Roxbury

HERRINGS HOUSE PARK – habitat restoration with Seattle Parks – W Marginal Way SW & SW Alaska

LONGFELLOW CREEK AT BRANDON STREET, habitat restoration with King Conservation District and EarthCorps – SW Brandon St. & 29th SW

Choose one and sign up via its link on this page of the Duwamish Alive! website.

Your time, everyone’s river: Sign up now for Duwamish Alive!

October 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm | In Environment, How to help, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Those are the sites where you can help Seattle’s only river by giving a few hours of your time to be part of this fall’s edition of Duwamish Alive! – one week from tomorrow, 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, October 17th. Organizers would love to hear from you ASAP, so use this list to choose one of the sites on the map – which include five in West Seattle – and sign up.

Home stretch for Murray CSO project across from Lowman Beach

October 7, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(King County photo)
A milestone for the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach Park – the tank is complete, and construction is starting for the building housing it. It’s been eight years since community members started hearing about the need for a project to reduce overflows into Puget Sound, almost five years after the announcement of the plan to locate it on what was a residential block, and almost two years since site work began. Announced tonight by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division:

King County’s contractor finished the concrete work for the Murray CSO Control facility’s one million gallon underground storage tank. Building the storage tank required some of the most intense activity on the project. King County and its contractor deeply appreciate the community’s patience while crews built the tank.

The facility building will have three rooms to house mechanical and electrical equipment. It was designed to follow the slope of Lincoln Park Way SW behind it. The building will be 20 feet tall at its highest point. Construction of the facility building will continue into Spring 2016.

Work to connect the underground storage tank to the Murray Pump Station will continue while the building is constructed. This work will increase congestion and cause traffic delays of up to 15 minutes and parking restrictions on the 7000 block of Beach Dr. SW. Please stay safe. Follow
the directions of flaggers and signs when near the site.

The project is intended to dramatically reduce the number of overflows from the Murray Pump Station at Lowman Beach, from an average of five per year – and five million gallons total – down to no more than one.

FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy’s fall Recycle Roundup nets nine tons

October 3, 2015 at 12:30 am | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Were you part of last Sunday’s Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church? Another big turnout – someone new every minute! – and big haul, reports Judy Pickens:

The Sept. 27 Recycle Roundup relieved 360 West Seattle households of 9 tons of appliances, electronics, and all manner of other stuff for responsible recycling. The 12 roundups sponsored by Fauntleroy Church since 2010 have returned at least 142 tons to the resource stream. We’ll do it again in April.

The date will be in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar as soon as it’s announced. If you absolutely have to get something recycled before then, check here to see what you can do with it.

BEACH DRIVE STENCH: Not us, says King County Wastewater Treatment Division

October 1, 2015 at 9:04 am | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

(Right-center, Doug Marsano from KC Wastewater Treatment District, talking with residents)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Beautiful view.

Ugly smell.

The latter is what some Beach Drive-area residents say they’re still dealing with, and some find it difficult to believe it’s just rotting sea lettuce. So they’ve been talking to the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which sent reps out Wednesday afternoon to talk with neighbors.

KCWTD took the complaints seriously enough to run tests in its system, looking for a telltale gas that would be present if something was getting out of the system and into the air. They didn’t find it, they told the neighbors:

The tests were conducted by King County odor investigators using gauges installed inside four manholes near your homes that detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. H2S gas smells like rotten eggs and is usually what causes people to notice odors coming from the sewer. If the sewer system was creating odors, the gauges would detect extended periods of time when heavy concentrations of H2S were present in the manhole that could escape to the environment.

Testing began on Thursday, September 24 and continued through Sunday, September 27. County odor investigators reviewed data from the gauges Monday, September 28. There are no indications that increased levels of H2S gas were present at any of the four manholes during the four-day testing period.

That wasn’t much consolation – some say the stink is worse than anything they’ve experienced in years, even decades along/near the shore. “It was unbearable this morning,” said one neighbor.

Joining KCWTD community liaison Doug Marsano for the gathering along the sidewalk across from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, in the late afternoon sunshine, was marine biologist Kim Stark, who works on water-quality issues with the county Department of Natural Resources.

She said this area’s not alone in the smelly siege – areas north of Elliott Bay have been dealing with it too, including Carkeek.

While skeptical neighbors wondered how it could continue through high tides and low, stormy weather and sunshine, Stark explained that the water is warmer this year, and that’s fueled the sea lettuce’s growth.

It’s not just pieces of sea lettuce on the shore, she added – mats of decaying sea lettuce, kelp, and other marine matter have been floating offshore, creating literal hotbeds of odor generation.

So what can we do about it? one neighbor asked.

Right now, the county reps said, not much. State permits would be needed to remove what’s rotting. And those would take a while. They mentioned the community of Dumas Bay in South King County, where the city of Federal Way got involved. And, as Beach Drive Blog (whose owners were also at the meeting) reminded readers, Fauntleroy Cove dealt with this for years, too, though we haven’t heard much lately.

In the WSB archives, we found a 2008 mention of a company that was expecting to remove sea lettuce in Fauntleroy and Dumas, to turn into biofuels.


(Published on WSB, September 2008: State Ecology Department photo of test sea-lettuce removal in Dumas Bay)
Our further research revealed that the company, Blue Marble, has long since changed its focus and moved to Montana, so it’s not an option now.

The neighbors vowed to organize and see what they can do about ensuring removal is an option next year – researching and applying for permits, for starters. In the short run, cooler weather – and most importantly, cooler water – seems to be their main hope of relief from the nose-wrinkling nuisance, but that might take another month.

VIDEO: Summer-long ‘Swim Duwamish’ wraps up in West Seattle

September 30, 2015 at 1:20 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

It’s been a big year for milestone swims. Today, another one: That’s Mark Powell, on the last leg of his summer-long “Swim Duwamish” tour, incrementally traveling 55 miles, along the full length of the Green and Duwamish Rivers, to call attention to how vital it is to our region, and yet how fragile, after decades of abuse. As he swam to Seacrest, he didn’t arrive alone:

The Blue Heron Canoeescorted him in; Duwamish Tribe member Ken Workman spoke traditional words of welcome. See and hear for yourself (you’ll also hear what Powell said about his journey):

And then, celebratory cupcakes:

Powell said he set out to find “the heart of the Duwamish” and was glad to see the waters thick with salmon in some places:

His swims were chronicled on this website, where you can also see videos such as this one showing some of the salmon he saw:

Powell emphasized that you can take small steps to make a difference in the future of the river and all who live in it and by it and who depend on it (here’s one good place to learn “7 simple solutions”).

HAPPENING NOW: ‘Recycle Roundup’ kicks off fall cleaning season, until 3

September 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Two more hours to get your recycle on – the stuff you can’t just put out in the bin – at the Fauntleroy Church Green Committee‘s fall “Recycle Roundup.” Check this “what they will and won’t take” list and then head to the parking lot at 9140 California SW for easy dropoff, with help from the 1 Green Planet crew, who were filling up two trucks when we stopped by at midmorning.

RECYCLING TOMORROW? Here’s the best time to take your stuff to Fauntleroy ‘Roundup’

September 26, 2015 at 11:25 am | In Environment, Fauntleroy, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

9 am-3 pm tomorrow, it’s the twice-a-year event that gives you the chance to recycle, for free, what you can’t just put out at the curb – the annual Fauntleroy Church Green Committee-presented “Recycle Roundup.” If you haven’t already checked the list and sorted your stuff, take a look:

Every Recycle Roundup brings in tons of recyclables. That means hundreds of people. Organizers have one BIG word of advice to get your dropoff done in the least amount of time – GO EARLY. There tends to be a rush toward the end, so if you can get there in the first few hours instead, you’ll save time and be able to get going with the rest of your Sunday. The church is at 9140 California SW; here’s a map.

HAPPENING NOW: Raingarden tours in Sunrise Heights and Westwood as King County marks completion of its first ‘green stormwater infrastructure’ project

September 20, 2015 at 1:44 pm | In Environment, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news, Westwood | 1 Comment

1:44 PM: Looking for something to do this afternoon? After King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and project manager Mary Wohleb ceremonially cut a big yellow ribbon, raingarden tours are under way in Sunrise Heights and Westwood until 4 pm – find the map here. It’s all to celebrate the completion of 91 roadside raingardens in planting strips spread across 15 blocks in those two neighborhoods, to keep stormwater out of the combined-sewer system and, in turn, keep untreated wastewater from overflowing into Puget Sound when the Barton Pump Station in Fauntleroy is overwhelmed. This is one of two King County Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) reduction projects in West Seattle that date back to early public meetings in 2009, and it was the county’s first-ever project of this type (the other project is the million-gallon Murray CSO storage tank being built across from Lowman Beach Park).

ADDED 3:24 PM: First, our video of the short round of speeches that began the event – Kristine Cramer from the KC Wastewater Treatment Division spoke first, then Councilmember McDermott and Wohleb.

As McDermott pointed out, “Neighbors spoke up, and the county listened.” That hinted at the pre-construction controversy for both West Seattle CSO projects. After early meetings dating back to 2007, three options for reducing the Barton basin (map) overflow were presented in 2010, and this was one of them; the other two involved stormwater-storage facilities on the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse back lot, or under upper Fauntleroy Way across from the ferry dock, which generated much opposition, given the historic unofficial park status of the area.

Once the “green stormwater infrastructure” plan was announced in late 2010, that too generated skepticism – the city had tried it in Ballard and that did not go well, to say the least. In 2011, the county tried to calm the most common concerns with a special meeting to address them.

Before today’s ceremony, we talked with project manager Wohleb, who said none of the fears had borne out, so far. No ponding, for example – if anything, she said, the bioswales are draining water more quickly than expected. While this coming fall/winter will be the first rainy season post-completion, some raingardens were done before last winter, so we asked if they have any data. Not so far, in part because the Barton Pump Station itself has been out of commission for construction, too, KCWTD says.

Wohleb also had words of praise for the entire project team, including the contractors >Goodfellow Brothers and designers SVR. Also mentioned today: The copious amount of communication with neighbors (look at all the block-by-block updates on this page, just as an example).

WHAT’S NEXT: If the county needs more stormwater to be taken out of the system, four more blocks could get raingardens – shown in the project map above as “delayed”; they were designed and permitted, just in case. If you’re in the project area and interested in a home raingarden or cistern, the rebate program through RainWise is funded through next year; check it out to see if you’re eligible.

And note that projects like this are in the works for Highland Park and South Park – here’s the county project page for that.

Something to say about the Barton CSO project? The county has set up an online survey – just go here.

SUNDAY: Celebrate completion of Barton CSO roadside-raingarden project in Sunrise Heights, Westwood

September 17, 2015 at 11:56 am | In Environment, Sunrise Heights, West Seattle news, Westwood | Comments Off

The rain falling right now reminds us of what’s coming up Sunday afternoon in the Sunrise Heights and Westwood neighborhoods – the King County Wastewater Treatment Division‘s celebration of the completion of the Barton Combined Sewer Overflow Control project. 15 blocks now have roadside raingardens after two seasons of construction; a ceremonial ribbon-cutting is planned at 1 pm Sunday at 32nd SW and SW Kenyon, and then from 1:30-4 pm, tours will be offered of “three recently planted blocks.” It’s also a chance to get updated information about the project, including the ongoing RainWise program, offering incentives for people in the target area to install rain gardens and/or cisterns. This project has been much-discussed, going all the way back to early meetings six years ago, so now that it’s done – whether you’re coming to the celebration or not – the county’s offering a survey for feedback – find it here.

You can help! Volunteer for salmon survey in West Seattle’s Longfellow Creek

September 16, 2015 at 10:57 am | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | Comments Off

(WSB photo from November 2014)

Last November, we reported on Puget Soundkeeper Alliance‘s project to track what happens to salmon in Longfellow Creek – which has much more of a toxic-runoff problem than West Seattle’s other urban salmon creek in Fauntleroy. This year, we have advance word that they’re looking for volunteer help, with an orientation event coming up in two weeks, so this is your chance to get involved:

Join Soundkeeper as we investigate the health of our local salmon runs at Longfellow Creek this fall! Volunteers will assess the effects of urban runoff on wildlife by conducting a pre-spawn mortality survey of Coho salmon. Volunteers needed for weekly surveys from October to early December.

Volunteer Orientation in West Seattle:
Thursday, October 1, 2015
6 pm-7:30 pm
Chaco Canyon Café
3770 SW Alaska St.

RSVP to michelle@pugetsoundkeeper.org

As Soundkeeper noted in this update last year, federal scientists have discovered a pre-spawn death rate of up to 80 percent in urban creeks – compared to one percent in rural creeks. The results of this work, including what you can do as a volunteer, will help support more cleanups, education, and enforcement to help clear the waters and save salmon.

From the ‘in case you wondered’ file: About that smell

September 14, 2015 at 9:54 am | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

At least once a day, someone asks us about a sewer-ish stink in the Beach Drive vicinity or upslope. While busy with other stories this past week-plus, we’ve been replying by pointing them to Beach Drive Blog‘s explanation – but it’s time, while we have a moment, to mention it here for anyone else who wondered but hasn’t inquired. BDB says it’s the rotting sea lettuce that turns up every so often, more notoriously a ways further south at Fauntleroy Cove. This isn’t unique to West Seattle, nor even to Washington, nor even to the U.S. – a Google search for the term “rotting sea lettuce” turns up reports from other nations including Canada, China, and the UK.

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