Heads up if you walk, run, and/or ride to/from Alki Beach: Repair work ahead at 53rd Avenue Pump Station

March 4, 2015 at 11:14 am | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | No Comments

Sidewalk detours and a bus-stop move are ahead next week with repair work at the 53rd Avenue Pump Station on Alki Beach. We just received the official notice from the county Wastewater Treatment Division – you can scroll through it above (or read it here, as a PDF). The county expects work to start next week and last up to a week.

Followup: Port to be sued over leasing West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to Foss/Shell

March 2, 2015 at 9:16 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

(T-5, empty since last summer, in center of photo tweeted in September by Peter West Carey)
9:16 AM: A coalition of environmental groups says it’s making good on its threat to sue the Port of Seattle for leasing part of West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to Foss as a homeport for Shell’s Arctic-oil-drilling fleet. Members of the coalition spoke at last week’s Port Commission meeting – as previewed here – asking the port to cancel the lease. They’re briefing reporters later this morning; the pre-briefing announcement says:

Represented by the national public interest environmental law firm, Earthjustice, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, and Seattle Audubon Society will announce the filing of a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle. The lawsuit alleges the Port of Seattle violated the State Environmental Policy Act and Shoreline Management Act by leasing Terminal 5 to serve as a homeport for Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet because there was no basis for the Port’s conclusion that a homeport is the same as Terminal 5′s previous use as a container terminal and because use of the terminal as a homeport could impair water quality from damaged vessels and vessel repairs.

Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman and representatives of the groups bringing the suit will also explain why the lawsuit was a necessary response to the Port of Seattle’s attempt to sign a lease for Terminal 5 with Foss Maritime for home-porting Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet with virtually no public process.

The lawsuit seeks to vacate the lease, freeing the elected Port Commissioners to work with the community to find better options for creating jobs, providing revenue to the Port, and achieving the Port’s goal of being “where a sustainable world is headed,” as the Port’s website asserts.

The lease was signed February 9th and announced by Port CEO Ted Fick in a letter to this coalition two days later; the negotiations were kept secret until news of the potential lease emerged via the agenda published a few days before the January meeting at which commissioners were briefed. More to come.

ADDED 11:11 AM: Here’s the full announcement, as released minutes ago (also, ADDED 1:43 PM, Foss’s reaction and a statement from the port):

Click to read the rest of Followup: Port to be sued over leasing West Seattle’s Terminal 5 to Foss/Shell…

Myers Parcels = Myers Park? Campaign to preserve as open space/parkland intensifies, as city prepares ‘sale strategy’

February 26, 2015 at 9:45 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

(Click image to see city map of Myers Parcels as a full-size PDF)
The community campaign to preserve an open-space area in the southeasternmost corner of West Seattle is ramping up and drawing new attention to the so-called “Myers Parcels” (map). A widely circulated announcement of an upcoming meeting describes the land south of the Joint Training Facility as possibly “the last large, undeveloped piece of property that could become a major park in Seattle.” The original announcement of the campaign last September was reported here; word of the new effort, including an organizational meeting, led us to check on the parcels’ current status.

First: We noticed that the Department of Planning and Development files for the site suggested Seattle Public Utilities was evaluating it as recently as last fall for possible relocation of its Wastewater and Drainage operations center. But when we checked with SPU on Wednesday, spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin told us the department is no longer considering using the site. So we moved on to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, which has responsibility for the site now. Spokesperson Julie Moore replied with background plus the status, and what’s expected to happen next:

The property was originally a gravel pit. At the time of purchase in 2003, the City intended to develop a portion as the Joint Training Facility and sell the remainder. The purchase was funded, in part, with a bridge loan for which the City now owes about $13 million. In 2006, the Seattle City Council, by ordinance 122308, declared 31 acres of the properties surplus and authorized a sale to Lowe’s, but that deal fell through. The sale transaction was not completed due to environmental and permitting issues. The subsequent downturn in the economy made a sale uneconomic.

As the recession eased, the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) obtained environmental studies to carefully document environmental assets such as wetlands and natural steep slopes.

In 2012, FAS circulated an excess property notice to City departments, and some have evaluated the site for potential City use, but have generally found it to be inappropriate for their operational purposes. FAS is now considering options for selling the undeveloped portion while preserving environmentally sensitive areas. The property is zoned for commercial uses, and sale proceeds will likely be enough to repay the $13 million bridge loan. FAS expects to make a recommendation on a sale strategy this year.

The 2012 “excess property notice” – see it here – includes that year’s total assessed value of the parcels, listed as $38 million.
Meantime, once FAS makes its recommendation, what happens? Moore’s explanation:

As with all property dispositions, FAS’s Real Estate Services (RES) follows the Seattle City Council-adopted policies and procedures for the review process. Once the process is complete, RES issues a final report, which includes RES’ recommendation regarding the property (typically to either retain the property for use by another City department or sell it), and presents it to the Mayor for review. If the Mayor concurs with the recommendation, the Mayor sends the report to the City Council, along with legislation authorizing the reuse or sale of the property. Only the City Council can make the final decision on reuse or disposition of City-owned real property. If the Council approves the recommendation for selling a property, the property is declared “surplus” and a sale proceeds.

You might recall that part of the site was on the list of potential city-jail locations back in 2008; ultimately, the city decided it didn’t need a new jail, and the entire plan was scrapped.

Back to the community campaign to keep the site as open space – here’s the meeting announcement:

You are invited to come to the first-ever gathering of SAVE MYERS PARK, on Saturday, March 14th, 10-noon, at the offices of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, 210 S. Hudson. Call or email Cass to confirm and for questions. 206-783-9093. Or email cassturnbull@comcast.net

The announcement, which you can read in full as posted to the WSB Facebook page if you haven’t seen it elsewhere, also suggests that messages be sent to the mayor and City Council.

You can ‘Threadcycle’ instead of throwing out clothing & other textiles that are more than ‘gently used’

February 25, 2015 at 12:36 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Seattle Public Utilities and King County are teaming up to announce “Threadcycle,” a new campaign to make sure you know that you can recycle more old clothing/textiles than you probably think you can. The official announcement points out that the average person in the U.S. throws away 70 pounds of used clothing/textiles each year, and that 95 percent of that could have been recycled. Right now, in fact, the announcement says, the recycling market for textiles is strong. So the city and county are partnering with eight organizations to get the word out NOT to throw away the items you don’t think can be donated. Find the organizations listed – along with drop sites – here.

You can help! Restore our forest and learn a little while you’re at it

February 25, 2015 at 9:00 am | In Environment, How to help, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

See that long stretch of greenbelt in the lower third of the photo shared with us earlier this week via Twitter by Ron Creel? That’s the West Duwamish Greenbelt – the largest contiguous stretch of forest left in the entire city, and it’s right here in West Seattle. This Saturday, the forecast is for sunshine, and the request is for some help from you:

South Seattle College’s Landscape Horticulture department would like to invite the community to a Restoration Work-party in the West Duwamish Greenbelt. On Saturday, February 28, the Ecological Restoration class will be assisting volunteers in proper planting and mulching techniques for new plantings. The students, taught by the college’s Instructor and Arboretum Coordinator Van Bobbitt, are currently studying the recovery process of urban ecosystems.

The event is scheduled from 9:30 am to 2 pm and will begin at the red doors at the Garden Center, located at the North Parking Lot on campus. Interested? Sign up on The Nature Consortium website at naturec.org/volunteer or contact Diana at 425-463-8450.

Terminal 5′s future: Opponents of drilling-fleet lease say they’ll ask Port Commission Tuesday to cancel it

February 23, 2015 at 9:27 pm | In Environment, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

(WSB photo: Terminal 5 as seen from east Admiral this afternoon)
Port of Seattle commissioners meet tomorrow for the first time since it was publicly disclosed that the port had signed the lease with Foss Maritime that will bring Shell‘s Arctic-drilling-fleet vessels to West Seattle’s closed-since-last-summer Pier 5. Port CEO Ted Fick signed it on February 9th, and the commission met on February 10th, but the signing wasn’t brought to light until a February 11th letter to the environmental coalition that had not only urged the port not to strike the deal, but held a media event hinting at legal action.

While the T-5 lease is not an official agenda item for tomorrow’s meeting, the opposition coalition plans to bring it up during public-comment time at the meeting, which starts at 1 pm in the Sea-Tac Airport conference room. Emily Johnston from 350 Seattle tells WSB, “Legal action is still definitely being considered, and we’re definitely moving forward in other ways as well: primarily, persuading the Port to rescind the lease, or to work with Foss to mutually abandon the lease, or to do whatever else they need to do *not to play a supporting role in Arctic drilling*. The Port is a public entity, and it has not been acting responsibly as such; at a minimum, they need to pull back and hold hearings. … Working on their process so that “next time” they know how to manage a controversial decision like this isn’t good enough: this particular decision is as consequential as any they will ever have, and they need to make the right one, and nix the lease.” The “process” refers to a directive given by commissioners when they agreed January 13th to let staff continue negotiating the lease, saying they needed to come up with procedures for policies that could guide staff in the future. A briefing on that potential process change is on tomorrow’s agenda.

We also sought an update today from Foss’s spokesperson, who had indicated that more details of the T-5 plan would be available by now. We haven’t heard back yet but will include anything that we do find out. Tomorrow’s commission meeting, meantime, is open to the public; the commission’s public-comment rules are here.

Duwamish River cleanup: City plan to support neighborhood involvement

February 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 11 Comments

(City-provided photo: From left, Macklemore, Jasmine Marwaha, CM Mike O’Brien, thank advocates Rein Attemann and James Rasmussen)
From Monday’s Seattle City Council meeting – a city boost for neighbors and groups affected by the ongoing Duwamish River cleanup. Here’s the announcement:

City Council unanimously approved a neighborhood-driven effort to enhance the community’s role in the Duwamish River cleanup process on Monday during a meeting of the Full Council. The adopted resolution creates an interdepartmental team (IDT) of City agencies to coordinate outreach efforts relating to the Duwamish cleanup, and identifies ongoing City projects that serve resident, tribal, and fishing communities in the Duwamish River Valley. The resolution also calls for engagement of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, limited-English proficiency communities, and people with low incomes in the design and implementation of the remaining cleanup.

Click to read the rest of Duwamish River cleanup: City plan to support neighborhood involvement…

New month, new phase for Murray CSO Control tank project

February 2, 2015 at 12:57 am | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | Comments Off

February brings a new phase of work at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach Park. The county’s announcement:

King County contractors recently finished the base of the underground storage tank, completing the last large concrete pour for the project. Crews are now preparing for smaller concrete pours to construct the outer wall of the tank.

Concrete pours for the outer wall are weather dependent and will occur on Thursdays in February and March. In order to keep the project on schedule, the contractor will be working on some Saturdays. Work hours on Saturdays are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Up to 20 trucks a day will deliver concrete to the site on pour days— about as many trucks as were previously on site each hour for the tank-base pours. Pours will occur between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Work will continue past 6 p.m. if necessary to complete the pour. One concrete pump truck on the east side of the 7000 block of Beach Dr. SW will pump concrete into the hole. Local and emergency access to Beach Drive SW and Lincoln Park Way SW will be maintained at all times. Expect traffic delays and congestion on pour days.

The county will have flaggers assisting with traffic. Questions/concerns? The project’s 24-hour hotline is 206-205-9186.

Will allowing Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet at Terminal 5 land the port in court? Coalition asks commissioners to reconsider

January 28, 2015 at 2:41 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At the Port of Seattle‘s Jack Block Park, overlooking six-months-empty Terminal 5, a coalition of environmental advocates called today for the Port Commission to change its mind about allowing Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet at T-5 as an interim use.

If commissioners don’t reconsider, they said, they might have to take the Port to court.

The notion of supporting an Arctic-drilling operation is incompatible with what the port and the region stand for, says the coalition, also suggesting, it could bring “…environmental harm (to) Puget Sound.” And reps at the media briefing repeatedly decried the fact the prospective deal had been secret until its appearance on the agenda for the commission’s January 13th meeting (published online five days in advance).

The coalition included nine national/state organizations plus City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and former Mayor Mike McGinn, both of whom were at the media event (O’Brien, left in top photo, was a speaker, McGinn, below, was not).

They are all signatories on a letter they said would go to the Port Commission today, leading off with concern that the port is fast-tracking this by using a State Environmental Policy Act exception that might ultimately not apply. Read the letter embedded below (or as a PDF, here):

As reported here right after the January 13th commission meeting, Port Commissioners Stephanie Bowman, Bill Bryant, and John Creighton voiced support for allowing staff to continue working with Foss Maritime, which would be providing the services to Shell, while Commissioners Tom Albro and Courtney Gregoire thought there should be more time for public comment. It was not a formal vote because, as also noted at that meeting, the part-time commission doesn’t usually vote on leases, delegating decisions to port staff.

Those speaking at today’s event took issue not only with the substance of the proposed deal, and with the pre-meeting secrecy, but with the notion of Arctic drilling in any form, supported anywhere. KC Golden from Climate Solutions said that it represents “a one-way ticket to centuries of hell and high water … we must not buy that ticket.”

“We flatly have to say no,” declared Councilmember O’Brien, who chairs the council committee that includes sustainability as its focuses. He said he’s hopeful that constituents will inspire Commissioners Bowman, Bryant, and Creighton to change their minds.

Raising the spectre of environmental damage to Puget Sound, Earthjustice’s Patti Goldman (top photo, second from left) made note of past problems with Shell’s fleet, “the fleet that had everything go wrong!” alluding to the expectation that the problem-plagued Noble Discoverer would return here – it was at Vigor on Harbor Island back in 2012:

(2012 photo by Ilona Berzups)
A West Seattle voice heard at the media briefing was that of attorney Peter Goldman (at right in top photo), who also had spoken during the public-comment period at the January 13th Port Commission meeting. “I regret that this press conference was necessary (but) I’m confident that (the Port Commission) will do the right thing.”

The port’s official statement on this, released this afternoon by spokesperson Peter McGraw: “This opportunity has the potential to create hundreds of family-wage jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the region. We also respect the differences of opinion amongst community stakeholders and Commissioners, and will carefully review their letter and concerns.”

Hours earlier at the Jack Block Park event, Councilmember O’Brien, among others, had seemed to anticipated the first part of that reaction, saying that “jobs vs. environment” is a “false choice.”

As for the timeline on finalization for the deal, a spokesperson for Foss told WSB they’re not commenting on where negotiations stand. Earlier information suggested work would have to be done at T-5 soon to make it ready for vessels to arrive in spring. Though the contract for Shell at T-5 would be through Foss, it wasn’t mentioned much during today’s event; we asked about that, and Peter Goldman said that while Foss has a good reputation, including attention to sustainability, “we can’t give them a pass just because they’re a good company.”

Congratulations! Award shared by Highland Park Improvement Club, Nature Consortium, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

January 25, 2015 at 9:25 pm | In Environment, Highland Park, West Seattle news | Comments Off

That’s historic Highland Park Improvement Club, honored along with two other local organizations, the Nature Consortium and Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition in the annual Sustainable Seattle Awards. The three organizations share this year’s “Transforming Spaces” award; HPIC has been adding sustainability features to its almost-a-century-old site at 12th/Holden, including “depaving” part of its parking lot, replacing it with a raingarden and permeable pavement. The Nature Consortium, also West Seattle-based, continues to restore the West Duwamish Greenbelt; and DRCC continues to advocate for the river running along much of West Seattle’s eastern edge to be restored and used as A River for All.” DRCC founder BJ Cummings also was honored as this year’s Sustainable Hero. The full list of awards, announced at a Friday night event at MOHAI on South Lake Union, is here.

P.S. If you’ve never been to HPIC, it has big events ahead in the next few weeks including a Super Bowl tailgate potluck next Sunday and the WSB-presented District 1 First Look candidates’ forum on February 5th. Nature Consortium, meantime, has at least two volunteer events you can check out every week. And DRCC is currently focused on helping people learn about the EPA’s Record of Decision about cleaning the river, and what more can be done – check out two events coming up, including one in West Seattle.

West Seattle brothers join in youth-led ‘State of the Planet’ event

January 24, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 11 Comments

(Photos by Andy Clark, courtesy 350 Seattle)
Last year they sang downtown at a rally of concern about exploding oil trains; today, West Seattle brothers Aji and Adonis Piper were part of the State of the Planet” event at City Hall. Though City Councilmember Mike O’Brien was on hand, this event was led by young sustainability ambassadors, campaigning for two initiatives – first, the Billion-Tree Challenge:

According to the young advocates supported by 350 Seattle, if each person in our state planted 150 trees, that would add up to a billion new ones, creating, advocates say, a “carbon bank” to get through the rest of this century. The other proposal discussed today: Climate-change-warning labels on gas-pump nozzles in Seattle, something like this:

The Northern California city of Berkeley passed an ordinance last November approving that type of label; San Francisco is reported to be considering it. Those who attended today’s event heard from Rob Shirkey, who has been campaigning for the pump labels in Canada. There is no formal proposal pending in Seattle yet.

Update: County says no power-outage-triggered overflow after all

January 22, 2015 at 10:10 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:10 AM THURSDAY: As relatively brief as this morning’s Fauntleroy/Arbor Heights/vicinity power outage was, it still had environmental effects, the county just disclosed:

King County sewer utility crews quickly stopped an overflow at the Murray Pump Station that was caused by an early-morning power failure in West Seattle.

The overflow lasted about 3-5 minutes, spilling an estimated 19,000 gallons of wastewater into Puget Sound near Lowman Beach Park. Crews engaged a mobile generator currently staged at the site and quickly restored normal operation.

King County notified health and regulatory agencies about the overflow, took water quality samples, and posted signs warning people to avoid contact with the water.

King County is currently investing $26 million to upgrade Murray Pump Station as part of a long-term project to control overflows of stormwater and sewage that occur during heavy rains. Improvements include the installation of a permanent back-up electrical system to provide power during outages and other emergencies.

The aforementioned project is separate from, but being done in conjunction with, the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project million-gallon-tank construction across the street.

UPDATE, 5:27 PM FRIDAY: From King County spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson:

I just want to offer some updated information about the Murray overflow we reported yesterday. After additional investigation, our operations staff concluded that we did NOT experience an overflow from the pump station.

The operations crews first took data from a sensor that initially indicated that water level in the pump station overflowed the weir, but a sensor further down the system in an outfall pipe and visual inspections indicated that no wastewater left the pump station.

Some Puget Sound seabird species ‘may be turning the corner’ in a good way, 7-year analysis suggests

January 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm | In Environment, Seen at sea, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 5 Comments

(All photos in this story are by Mark Wangerin. Above, rhinoceros auklet)
A glimmer of good news about the health of Puget Sound and some of its wildlife. This news release arrived via NOAA, but much of the work was done by volunteers:

A new analysis of seven years of bird sightings by volunteer birdwatchers from the Seattle Audubon Society has found positive trends in several Puget Sound seabird species that had been in historic decline.

(Common loon)
The study tracked the occurrence of 18 seabird species at 62 sites around Puget Sound and found increased presence of 14 species, including cormorants, loons, rhinoceros auklets, and harlequin ducks. It also documented local hotspots for certain species, which may reflect especially important habitat or prey the birds depend on.

(Harlequin duck)
“This means that all other things being equal, if someone goes out now they’re more likely to see these birds than they would have been seven years ago,” said Eric Ward, an ecologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author of the research.

Many seabird species are thought to have declined around Puget Sound since the 1960s and 1970s but the new results suggest the trends have turned up for many species.

Click to read the rest of Some Puget Sound seabird species ‘may be turning the corner’ in a good way, 7-year analysis suggests…

MLK Day of Service in West Seattle: Nature Consortium in Riverview

January 19, 2015 at 12:43 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(First two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Nature Consortium‘s new executive director Merica Whitehall (above right) been on the job just a few weeks, and today she’s out with a legion of volunteers, including Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas (above left), for NC’s MLK Day of Service event in the West Duwamish Greenbelt east of Riverview Playfield. Mayor Ed Murray was on the way after a big MLK Day event at Garfield High School. Here’s another VIP we caught on her way up from the work site:

If you don’t know her already, that’s newly crowned Miss Seattle Taryn Smith, a West Seattle High School senior. The West Duwamish Greenbelt, Seattle’s largest contiguous forest, is the focus of Nature Consortium’s restoration work, planting trees and removing tree-killing invasives so that the forest can survive and thrive into the future. We expect to add a few more photos later.

1:56 PM: From the NC Instagram feed – first, a short video clip including something they’re famous for, providing music while volunteers work:

Volunteers formed a fire line to deliver mulch to our newly planted trees

A video posted by Nature Consortium (@natureconsortium) on

If you didn’t get to sign up for today’s event – Nature Consortium has many others, at least once a week – check naturec.org for opportunities.

Clearing the waters in Longfellow Creek: Construction soon for two projects to reduce combined-sewer overflows

January 17, 2015 at 8:50 pm | In Delridge, Environment, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Two projects to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Longfellow Creek are about to get under way, and the city plans two meetings near the project sites, two weeks from today, to let neighbors know what to expect when construction begins, and to answer questions. These are both projects to improve existing facilities, rather than build brand-new ones; for the one known simply as CSO 2, the meeting will be 10:30 am-noon January 31st at the southeast corner of Delridge/Orchard, and for CSO 3, it’s 1-2:30 pm January 31st on the west side of the Barton Place/Henderson intersection. You can read more about both projects on this city webpage (which includes links to technical and environmental documents, if you’re looking for the fine print).

You can help! Students cleaning up Lincoln Park beach Saturday afternoon welcome community support

January 13, 2015 at 9:05 pm | In Environment, West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Chief Sealth International High School ninth-grader Jessica e-mailed to say she and a group of classmates plan a beach cleanup on Saturday afternoon, and that your help is welcome:

For my Language Arts class, we are working on ways to spread awareness about ocean plastic pollution. My group chose to pick up trash at the beach in Lincoln Park. We’ll be there on January 17th around 12 to 4 pm. … We’d love to get help and have the community get involved! We’ll be by the picnic shelter north of the bathrooms.

Jessica, Alyssa, Hamdi, ZamZam, and Nathalie (Chief Sealth students)

If you’d like to share their invitation, remember that hovering over the “ShareThis” icon below any WSB stories gives you options for social-media sharing on a wide variety of services or even just e-mailing the link (click the three-dot icon).

West Seattle traffic alert: Dozens of trucks again tomorrow for Murray CSO project pour

January 13, 2015 at 5:44 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | Comments Off

After big concrete-pour days on Friday and Monday, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division has just announced another one is coming up tomorrow at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach. Spokesperson Doug Marsano says it’ll work the same way as those two recent days – starting around 7 am, with up to 10 trucks an hour throughout the day bringing concrete to finish the base of the under-construction million-gallon tank.

West Seattle scene: Lowman Beach pit pour, phase 2

January 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

2:58 PM: Once the sun came out, we went over to the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach for a look into the million-gallon storage-tank pit, during the second phase of big concrete pours. We’re checking with the county to see if they’ve set a second pour date yet, since this is a postponement from last month, and the second date also was originally in December. (If you’d like a slightly wider, though lower-resolution, view of today’s work in the pit, we have one on Instagram.)

5:06 PM UPDATE: Doug Marsano from King County says that while no date is firmed up yet, “the contractor wants to pour early next week.” So we won’t know any sooner than tomorrow (if not later) when the next big pour will be.

West Seattle salmon: Egg-delivery day at local schools

January 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Before local students show up at Fauntleroy Creek in the spring to set salmon fry free, they spend months tending to and studying in-school aquariums – and today’s the day it all begins anew. Volunteers Judy Pickens and Phil Sweetland have spent the day ferrying more than a thousand salmon eggs from a regional hatchery to 10 schools in West Seattle and South Park. We caught them at the first one they visited, Our Lady of Guadalupe:

As they made each delivery, disinfecting the eggs in an iodine bath before they could be placed in their hatching tanks, they talked with students, who were fascinated to see what would eventually hatch into coho:

From OLG, they went to nearby West Seattle Elementary, where their visit was shorter, since they volunteer at WSES regularly. But this school has something extra-special – a tank and ornate base, courtesy of Phil:

We had to photograph it before the students crowded around, so you could see the art.

Judy and Phil live on Fauntleroy Creek, and have a deep devotion to this program – almost four years ago, we reported on their resolve to keep it going despite state budget cuts. As explained at the time, it’s not that this is making a big dent in the salmon population, but it is helping keep fish and creeks top of mind every year for a new group of students who will grow into the adults on whose actions the fish’s fate will rise and fall. Meantime, these eggs will hatch soon, and the fish will grow for a few months in the tanks in school hallways and classrooms, before creek releases in spring.

1st community meeting of the year: Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, on Sunday afternoon

January 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm | In Environment, Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo of Dakota substation site last month, as cleanup was beginning)
West Seattle’s first community-group meeting of 2015 is tomorrow, as the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition continues strategizing how to preserve some if not all of the greenspaces currently known as surplus substations. All are welcome at 3 pm Sunday at High Point Branch Library (35th/Raymond). The coalition started out focusing on the surplus substations in West Seattle, whose future has been on the line for more than a year now, and then expanded to a citywide focus, with a lengthening list of sites of concern so far, including at least 10 ex-substations from Ballard to Delridge. As a result of their efforts, the city is studying the possibility of an “Open Space Opportunity Fund,” but that might not come soon enough; the announcement of tomorrow’s meeting says, “We have a short window for action and really need your help!”

Burn ban lifted, announces Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

January 3, 2015 at 12:39 pm | In Environment, Health, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Update from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency:

Effective immediately, all burn bans are being lifted in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, as well as Darrington. With the help of rain and wind, air pollution levels everywhere dropped to GOOD or lower Moderate last night.

While agency forecasters do expect only light winds during the day today and into tonight, an approaching weather system should increase winds and rain late tonight and into Sunday. This will again help disperse our air pollution and keep levels low for the next 2-3 days.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency would like to thank everyone who switched to alternative sources of heat instead of burning wood during these bans. Children, the elderly, and people with chronic respiratory health problems especially appreciate your efforts.

The now-over burn ban had been in effect for two days.

So, it’s January, and you have to recycle your food waste. Are you ready (if you weren’t doing it already)?

January 2, 2015 at 11:34 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | 79 Comments

We’ve had three months’ warning (actually longer, but until September, it was just a line somewhere in a long-range plan), and now, it’s time. In case you missed the Christmastime publicity blitz in citywide media … as the holiday season ends, we’re pointing to the new recycling rules – food waste goes in the yard-waste bin (if you haven’t been putting it there already). And that doesn’t just mean fruit/vegetable scraps. From the city’s “what do I do with THIS?” flyer:

As noted last fall, while the new rules are in effect as of yesterday, this is the start of a six-month ramp-up period, to give everyone a chance to get used to it and figure out how to do it. And even when enforcement starts in July, this isn’t set up as a moneymaker for the city – the residential fine is a buck, for example. The point is that the city is hoping to get to its goal of recycling 60 percent of the waste stream. You’ll be considered to be in compliance if you have less than “10% recyclables or food waste” in your trash can. To get them from kitchen to bin, you can use paper or compostable bags, or get a covered compost pail to keep in the kitchen.

SIDE NOTE – SO WHAT ABOUT THE IN-SINK DISPOSER? In previous discussions, some have declared they’ll just keep using this rather than diverting food waste to the yard-waste bin. We’ve looked around for info on that; general consensus (in reports such as this) seems to be, while it’s greener than just throwing food waste in the trash, it’s not as green as composting. And best thing of all is to just figure out how to waste less food, period.

‘Stagnant weather’ brings Stage 1 burn ban for King County

January 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Our area and the rest of King County is now under a Stage 1 burn ban, announced by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency because of “stagnant weather conditions and rising air pollution,” expected to continue at least until tomorrow. Here’s what a Stage 1 burn ban means:

* No burning is allowed in wood-burning fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves or fireplace inserts. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.

* The only exception is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ designation from the Clean Air Agency

* No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

* Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

* It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

We’ll publish an update whenever the burn ban is lifted.

Another postponement for next big pour at Murray CSO project

December 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm | In Environment, Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo, December 5th)
In case you’re keeping track – King County Wastewater Treatment has just changed the dates again for the next big pour at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project across from Lowman Beach. It’s now set for Monday and Thursday of next week, January 5 and 8th, exactly one month after the first big pour, which brought about 20 trucks an hour to the site – twice the amount expected for this one. The county also notes that crews will not be working at the site New Year’s Day. Here’s the full update (PDF) the county sent late today.

West Seattle holidays: One more Christmas tree recycling option

December 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm | In Environment, Holidays, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Adding to the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide, another tree-cycling option: If the curbside and transfer-station options don’t work for you, maybe this will – the West Seattle Rainbow Assembly announces its annual tree-cycling dropoff event in the parking lot at Alki Masonic Center, 10 am-3 pm next Saturday (January 3rd), cash donations accepted, no flocked trees or tinsel. The center’s newly regraded/repaved parking lot is at 40th/Edmunds.

Christmas tree recycling in West Seattle: Dates for this season

December 26, 2014 at 11:29 am | In Environment, Holidays, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

Not that we’re suggesting you de-decorate your tree and rush it right out the door right this moment, but the practical-minded West Seattleite might be wondering about this year’s treecycling dates, at the very least. Here’s what Seattle Public Utilities has to say:

Seattle residents who subscribe to curbside food and yard waste collection can put their trees and greens out on their regular collection day at no extra charge from December 26, 2014 through January 11, 2015.

Multi-family buildings can put out one tree next to each food and yard waste cart per collection day at no extra charge during this time.

Trees should be cut into sections of six feet long or shorter, with branches trimmed to less than four feet to fit into the collection trucks. Sections should be bundled with string or non-plastic twine. Metal, plastic and ornaments in trees and wreaths must be removed.

Trees that are flocked and/or have tinsel or ornaments will be collected as extra garbage. Customers will need to cut the tree into three-foot pieces and each piece will be charged as extra garbage. Each unit of extra garbage costs $10.20. Plastic trees are not compostable.

Seattle residents can also drop off holiday trees and greens for free at Seattle Public Utilities’ South Transfer Station from December 26, 2014 through January 11, 2015. The tree sections must be cut to eight feet or less in length and the trunk must be four inches or smaller in diameter. The limit is three trees per vehicle. Only trees and wreaths without flocking or decoration may be composted free of charge. The station is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, other than selected holidays.

If anyone is handling treecycling as a charity benefit this year, we haven’t heard about it yet (but we’re standing by for info as always – editor@westseattleblog.com). Meantime, we’re adding this and other post-holiday recycling info to the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide, which stays up and running through New Year’s Day.

How are Harbor Island cleanup sites doing? State announces your chance to see new draft status reports

December 23, 2014 at 10:28 am | In Environment, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(From Ecology website: Aerial image of BP site)
The state is continuing to watch three cleanup sites on Harbor Island, and just sent an announcement that draft status reports are available for your review and/or comments. From the Department of Ecology, with links to each report:

Past and ongoing cleanup work at three major oil terminals on Harbor Island in Seattle continue to protect public safety and the environment, according to reviews drafted by the Washington Department of Ecology.

Ecology is making the draft reports available for public review and comment through Jan. 26, 2015. The reviews cover the cleanup status of BP West Coast Products Terminal, Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminal, and Shell Oil Harbor Island Terminal.

Click to read the rest of How are Harbor Island cleanup sites doing? State announces your chance to see new draft status reports…

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