West Seattle, Washington
5:08 PM: If you’re out for a walk tonight and notice signs south of Alki Point – the King County Wastewater Treatment Division now says its overflow during the storm was from the Alki Point treatment facility across from Constellation Park, not a pump station. No word yet how much of an overflow, but KCWTD says “the wastewater is disinfected between 63rd and Alki, so we aren’t expecting anything from the water quality samples.” They posted signage just to be on the safe side. Meantime, Seattle Public Utilities says one of its new gauges, at High Point, measured the most rain during the 24-hour peak of the storm – 2.57 inches.
ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: The county finally has a total – “250,000 gallons of disinfected flow” in this spill.
That’s the newest 360-degree video from “Diver Laura” James – once it’s playing, use your cursor to “grab” it and explore the view from all around. What you’re seeing is stormwater runoff near Seacrest Park, emerging from an outfall during Sunday’s downpour. It’s part of Puget Sound’s pollution problem, and as we’ve discussed here many times before, there are things you can do to lessen it. Among them – if you drive a motor vehicle, make sure it’s not leaking! This year you have another round of chances to attend a free workshop to learn how to do that. The Seattle workshops are at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge, next one less than two weeks away, on Saturday, January 21st – you can register here, or for one of the nine monthly workshops later in the year, click the arrow next to the SSC location on this page.
Thinking twice about leaving, or putting, your tree out, with a little more snow possibly on the way? Tomorrow you can drop it off for recycling with the Rainbow Girls, during their annual tree-recycling event at the Masonic Center in The Junction. Take it to the lot on the northeast corner of 40th and Edmunds in The Junction between 9 am and 1 pm Saturday. It’s a service the youth group is providing as a fundraiser, by donation, no set amount – give what you can.
Not that we’re urging you to rush your tree out the door. But if it overstays its welcome … that could be dangerous. Here are three ways to recycle it:
TRANSFER STATION: You also have until the end of January to take your tree and/or holiday greens to a city transfer station, fee-free (three trees maximum per vehicle). Nearest one to us is the South Transfer Station (130 S. Kenyon in west South Park).
RAINBOW GIRLS: 9 am-1 pm Saturday, January 7th, drop off your tree at Alki Masonic Center in The Junction. By donation; sponsored by West Seattle Assembly #18 Order of Rainbow for Girls. (4736 40th SW)
(Anyone else having a tree-recycling drive/event? Please let us know so we can add to the WSB Holiday Guide and Calendar!)
The photo taken in The Admiral District is from Katie Kauffman, who explains:
(On Friday) West Seattle Neighbors for Peace and Justice called attention to Wells Fargo’s substantial investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In the photo they are singing a song to the tune of ‘Let It Snow,’ with the refrain, ‘Move your dough! Move your dough! Move your dough!’
Opponents of the pipeline – or its original route, which the Army Corps of Engineers is re-examining – have been encouraging people to take their money out of the financial institutions bankrolling it. Wells Fargo is reported to have loaned more than three and a half billion dollars for the project.
The Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project – centered on a million-gallon tank to hold overflows during major storms – is almost done. An update from King County today says the next big step is restoration work across the street at Lowman Beach Park, which held construction trailers and also crews working to upgrade the pump station beneath the park’s southeast side:
King County’s contractor recently completed major roadway and sidewalk restoration on streets surrounding the project site. Before the end of the year, the contractor will paint new roadway lines and install roadway signs.
Landscaping on site continues as crews prepare to begin restoration in Lowman Beach Park. Before planting grass in the park, the contractor will prepare the soil by grading, turning over the subsoil, and adding new topsoil. A fence will remain in place around the park until the new grass is well established.
No work is scheduled for Dec. 24 – 26 or Dec. 31 – Jan. 2. While work will continue into 2017, you can expect to see smaller crews and fewer pieces of equipment on site (see schedule in attached update for additional information).
We appreciate your continued patience as we work to safely complete the project as quickly as possible. We will continue to provide you with updates on project progress in 2017.
What to expect in 2017:
• Work to occur on weekdays 7 am-6 pm and occasional Saturday work 9 am-6 pm.
• Smaller crews and fewer pieces of equipment on site and in Lowman Beach Park
• Streets near the site open and accessible
• Periodic sidewalk closures while landscaping work is underway
• No public access to the staircase on site until all work is complete
• Fence to remain in place around Lowman Beach Park until grass is well established
Please direct any concerns or inquiries to the project hotline: 206-205-9186.
The overflow-control facility itself has been operational for more than a month.
Diver Laura‘s been out again testing apparel and equipment off our shore, and this video is of note not only as a reminder that the stormwater from our streets and roofs ends up in Puget Sound … but also for the fish that were hanging out with her by the outfall. “Hordes of shiner perch,” she explains. “They’ve been like that for a couple weeks, hanging out in droves.”
Completion is in sight for the project meant to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Puget Sound by Lowman Beach – the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project. We took the photo after getting this update late today:
King County’s million-gallon underground storage tank is now working after passing all system tests. As early as next week, County operators will work inside the facility to monitor flows at the Murray Pump Station and operate the underground storage tank as needed.
Roadway restoration is complete on Beach Dr. SW. The contractor is now restoring sidewalks near the site. Crews are also working in the access road south of Lowman Beach Park to upgrade a small sewer line. This work is expected to be complete by mid-December.
Landscaping and project art will finish up in early 2017, depending on weather (see schedule in attached update for additional information). A fence will remain around the site until all landscaping is complete. The public staircase on site will not be accessible until all project work is complete. Access to Lowman Beach Park will be maintained as it has been throughout construction.
King County and its contractor appreciate your patience as we work to complete the project as quickly as possible. We will provide another update in December with what to expect during activities that will continue in 2017.
No work at the site during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.
BACKSTORY: It’s been seven years since first word of a possible storage tank to catch overflows. Six years ago, the storage-tank decision was announced. Major work at the site began in August 2013 with demolition of the residences that used to be on the site. Here’s our pic from two years ago when the tank was halfway done:
When done, the structure will include public-access areas for looking out toward Puget Sound.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Almost two months after the city filed civil lawsuits over the illegal cutting of more than 100 trees on public land in East Admiral, we’re hearing from some of the defendants – via court documents.
Two defendants are asking that the suits be stayed because they expect criminal charges, saying that answering the lawsuits would violate their Fifth Amendment rights.
Two others are asking that the suits be dismissed.
First – a quick recap: Back in September, five months after the illegal tree-cutting came to light, on city-owned Duwamish Head Greenspace parcels, City Attorney Pete Holmes announced lawsuits seeking more than $1.6 million in damages. Those sued by the city included three couples who own nearby homes, two people alleged to have been involved in the cutting, and various unnamed “John/Jane Does.”
None commented after the lawsuits were announced, but some responses from defendants have been filed in recent weeks, we discovered during a routine check of the online Superior Court files. The responses vary and include motions to dismiss one suit and delay another – the latter, with a contention that criminal charges are expected (something the City Attorney said in September could be possible). Read More
(Photo by Dave Ellifrit, from December 2015 birth announcement of J28’s calf J54)
2:10 PM: We have just left Bell Street Pier downtown, where advocates for the Southern Resident Killer Whales summoned media to hear sad news and a plea for action before time runs out.
First, they announced the death of another local orca, a nursing mom whose calf is dead or dying too. This is the “obituary” read by whale researcher Ken Balcomb:
J28 was born in mid-winter 1992/93 in or near Puget Sound Washington, and was the first of four known calves born to J17 in the J9/J5 lineage of southern resident killer whales (SRKW – see family tree) inhabiting the inshore marine waters of the Pacific Northwest. The iconic and world-famous J1, first SRKW ever to be photo-identified, was her father.
Photographs of J28 that were taken in the summer of 1993 by Center for Whale Research staff and Earthwatch volunteers show that she was a healthy and vigorous ‘calf’’ among six new calves born that year into the SRKW population. In late autumn 2002, when J28 was nine years old she acquired a small nick in the trailing edge of her dorsal fin that made her easily identifiable to whale-watchers and the general public, and she became one of the darlings for a growing fan club of humans that were beginning to raise concerns that this iconic population was precipitously declining from around 100 in 1995 to around 80 in 2003. The SRKW population was declared Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act in 2005, and earlier this year it was listed as a “species in the spotlight” by NOAA for its lack of recovery since then.
Sexual maturity for these immensely popular neighbor animals is typically attained in the early to mid teens, and J28 had her first known calf, a daughter J46, in November 2009 when she was sixteen years old. Gestation is approximately 17 months, so we can estimate that J28 became pregnant at age fourteen and a half. In January 2013 (three years after the birth of J46), a freshly dead neonate calf was found on Dungeness Spit and identified from DNA as belonging to J28 with the father most likely to have been L41. The dead calf was not given an alpha-numeric designation because it had not been documented alive. She subsequently (23 months after the dead calf) had her second live-born calf, a son J54, in December 2015 at the tail end of a so-called “Baby Boom” of 2014/15. Regrettably now that mom has died, he will not survive and may already be dead, along with two other “boomers” (J55 and L120).
J28 was noted to be losing body condition in January 2016, presumably from birthing complications, and by July was clearly emaciated. If her carcass is ever found an examination of her ovaries may reveal how many ovulations/pregnancies she actually had, as well as her proximate cause of death (probably septicemia). We estimate that she died in the Strait of Juan de Fuca sometime between 16 and 18 October, prior to her first noted absence on 19 October.
J28 is survived by her Mother, (J17) two sisters (J35 and J53), a brother (J44), a daughter (J46), and a nephew (J47). Her daughter and her oldest sister (J35) are attempting to care for the orphaned calf, but at ten months of age he is too young to survive without mother’s milk supplement, and he has gone too long with inadequate nutrition. No other lactating females have adopted him and his grandmother is too occupied raising her own newest calf (J53, born in October last year) to care for him. His sister, J46, had been catching and offering salmon to her mother and little brother for several months while mom was ill, but that was simply not enough nutrition provided to three whales by one little female no matter how hard she tried. The family requests that in lieu of sending flowers and cake*, well-wishers please send more wild Chinook salmon to and from Pacific Northwest rivers.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) October 28, 2016
The SRKWs population is now down to 80, Balcomb said (down from 85 early this year).
The advocates are urging support for one key action to make that happen: Removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River. They say that the dams are losing money anyway, and have been studied ad infinitum, with another study about to be launched – needlessly, they say – and that the dams could be breached/removed by order of the President. 202-456-1111 is the White House number they’re urging supporters to call. They also suggested pressure on Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell as well as Governor Jay Inslee.
Think global, act local. That applies to the Plant for the Planet youth movement, which the video above is about, and which is having its next daylong Plant for the Planet Academy for interested kids this Saturday, 9 am-5:30 pm, at Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Gatewood.
Do you know a young person who is concerned about climate change? Please spread the word about the upcoming Plant for the Planet Academy on October 29th. At this free day-long workshop, 50 students (ages 9-14) will learn how they can take action to protect and heal our environment, as part of Plant For The Planet – an international group of 34,000+ young people worldwide who are planting trees and leading communities to solve the climate crisis now.
At the Academy, students will learn how to present information to others about the science of climate change and ways to take positive action – both as individuals and as communities. Students will use hands-on activities to teach one another about climate science, how to plant a tree, how to give a climate presentation, and they will make plans with other ambassadors to engage our community on climate solutions. The upcoming Plant for the Planet Academy will culminate in an educational and moving slideshow presentation for families and the public, as the world’s newest Ambassadors for Climate Justice share what they have learned from each other and make their commitments to plant and speak for the trees, and for our environment!
It’s free, with snacks, a T-shirt, and the book “Tree by Tree” provided to participants. Here’s how to register.
Photos by Leda Costa for West Seattle Blog
So much happened in West Seattle this weekend … but we would argue, this is the most important. On the Duwamish River and in its watershed, hundreds of volunteers gathered to offer some help via the twice-yearly Duwamish Alive! habitat restoration and cleanup gatherings. All sizes of volunteers, including Paislee Kelm and Nash Randow-Kelm:
They were working at Herring’s House Park on the river – explained on the Duwamish Alive! website as “a 15.5 acre location created in 1999 primarily as habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon as they journey to Puget Sound.” It’s across from the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse, one of nine areas where people gathered on Saturday, one of two visited by WSB photojournalist Leda Costa – more of her photos ahead: Read More
It’s a perfect fall morning, which is great news for the hundreds of volunteers out helping with the fall edition of Duwamish Alive! at nine locations along the river and in its watershed, from West Seattle to Tukwila. Our first photo, above, is from WSB’s Leda Costa at Herring’s House Park. More later!
(UPDATED 11:35 AM with “what’s next” now that this is public)
(January 2015 photo of Terminal 5 by Long Bach Nguyen)
10:23 AM: Just announced by the port: It’s finished the final environmental-impact statement for the proposed $200+-million modernization of Terminal 5 in West Seattle. We haven’t read the fine print yet but the news release says some community requests are addressed – including shore power so ships
aren’t running don’t have to run their engines while docked:
The Port of Seattle has completed the environmental analysis of Terminal 5 and has prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the project to modernize the cargo-handling facility in order to serve larger cargo vessels. The proposed upgrades to Terminal 5 are wharf rehabilitation, berth deepening, electrical service and improvements to the upland portions of the property.
“Based on public comment we are including a number of improvements, such as shore power for vessels, installing gates for noise and safety mitigation for rail, and significant traffic improvement measures,” said John Creighton, Port of Seattle Commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “We want to thank the public for weighing in on this proposal during the comment period.”
“With this Final Environmental Impact Statement for Terminal 5, we are one step closer to making this prime maritime asset ‘Big Ship Ready’ and able to handle the largest container vessels working the market today,” said Connie Bacon, Port of Tacoma Commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This region needs this terminal to remain competitive in today’s global economy.”
Mitigation measures for the project include construction of plug-in capability for shore power at two berths, tracking of air quality performance, establishment of a safety corridor between the Terminal 5 gate and the Duwamish river in order to minimize the need to use locomotive horns, required use of ambient-sensing broadband back up alarms, implementation of a Gate Queue Management plan, establishing a truck driver information system, comprehensive traffic signal improvements along SW Spokane Street and an operation noise management plan to ensure and monitor compliance with the Seattle noise code.
The FEIS evaluated potential impacts to earth, air, water, plants, animals, energy and natural resources, environmental health, noise, aesthetics (including light and glare), historic and cultural resources, transportation and public services. The Port of Seattle Commission must approve the recommended improvements in public session.
Copies of the FEIS are available for review at the Seattle Central Library, Delridge Library, Southwest Library, Highpoint Library, South Park Library, and West Seattle Library. Copies are also available at the Port of Seattle, Maritime Environment and Sustainability Department, Pier 69, 2711 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Washington, during business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
People interested in receiving a copy of the FEIS should contact Brenda Thomas at 206-787-3382 or email at: SEPA.firstname.lastname@example.org. The FEIS can also be reviewed and downloaded at the Port of Seattle website and at the Terminal 5 Improvements Project Online Open House.
The entire environmental review followed community concerns, including a petition drive, that followed the port’s original announcement that it didn’t believe a full-scale environmental impact statement would be needed. The purpose of the EIS (direct link here – use dropdown under “Current Projects”) is for use by agencies making decisions about permits for the project, which the port says is expected to be complete by 2020.
11:35 AM: We talked with port spokesperson Peter McGraw regarding “what’s next” now that this is out. For one, there is an appeals process – deadline, November 1st. That’s explained here, on the “Next Steps” page of the “online open house.” And, McGraw points out, a big part of the final EIS is the announcement of the port’s “preferred alternative” – it’s the one that does NOT include “upland improvements” beyond T-5’s existing footprint.
(WSB file photo from a past Duwamish Alive! event)
If this isn’t already on your calendar – the Duwamish River will benefit from just a few hours of your time next Saturday (October 22nd). Five sites along the river and in its watershed are in need of volunteers for the fall edition of Duwamish Alive!, 9:30 am-2 pm on Saturday. It’s one of the two days each year when hundreds of people volunteer to help our area’s only river. Here’s how:
Join our community effort to restore native habitat within the Duwamish Watershed on Saturday, October 22nd, while celebrating the connection of our urban forests to our river and salmon. Starting at 10:00 am volunteers will gear up at multiple Duwamish sites including one of our largest urban forests – the West Duwamish Greenbelt – to participate in planting and removing invasive weeds in an effort to keep our river alive and healthy for our communities, salmon and the Puget Sound. Volunteers are still needed at:
Pigeon Point Park
Roxhill Bog, headwaters of Longfellow Creek
Delridge Wetlands, tributary of Longfellow Creek
Longfellow Creek at Greg Davis Park
Herring’s House Park, along the river
(outside West Seattle) Hamm Creek/Duwamish Substation, along the river
To volunteer, visit DuwamishAlive.org to see the different volunteer opportunities and RSVP to the contact for the site of your choice, or email email@example.com
Other work sites include a river cleanup by kayak, shoreline salmon habitat restoration, and native forest revitalization while enjoying our autumn. Families, company groups, clubs, individuals, schools, community organizations, are encouraged to participate, and no experience is necessary.
The workday at all 15 sites begins at 9:30 with volunteer sign-in and concludes at 2 PM. Refreshments, tools, and instructions will be provided. All ages and abilities welcomed.
One more video from our semi-stormy Saturday: If you missed “Diver Laura” James‘s live dive to the stormwater outfall in Cove 1 near Seacrest – here’s the video. She was streaming live via Periscope, hoping for a live look at the mesmerizing and sometimes horrifying sight of polluted stormwater runoff emerging into Puget Sound, but the rain chose that exact time for a break. There were still sights to see, and she’s added captioning for the narration recorded. You’ll also see good reasons not to ignore litter you might spot on the street – and some wildlife, too.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Neighbors of the former Avalon substation building by the southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge say they were surprised to find out, after years of living nearby, that it is contaminated with mercury and set for demolition.
Wednesday afternoon, they gathered with Seattle City Light and Department of Construction and Inspections reps and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold to try to clarify what happened and what’s planned for the site after the building is torn down and the contamination cleanup. Read More
(WSB photo, May 2016: West Seattle Elementary group at Fauntleroy Creek with volunteer Dennis Hinton)
By Dennis Hinton, Fauntleroy Creek volunteer
Special to West Seattle Blog
After months of not knowing if the Fauntleroy Creek Salmon in the Schools program would continue uninterrupted as it has for more than 20 years, word came late last week that it will.
The program centers on coho fry released by schoolchildren. Ten elementary schools and three preschools in West Seattle receive coho eggs in January and students rear the fish while learning about biology, habitat, and the role of salmon in Pacific Northwest environment, commerce, and culture. Nearly 800 students came to the creek this past spring on release field trips, bringing 1,800 coho fry.
For the first time since 1991 when it started Salmon in the Schools, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife notified program coordinators six months ago that coho eggs might not be available for the 2016-17 term. Without them, participating West Seattle schools would have had to rear another salmon species for release elsewhere.
(WSB photo: Judy Pickens at Westside School on egg-delivery day last January)
“This news from the state was chilling to both teachers and creek volunteers,” said Judy Pickens. She and Phil Sweetland represent Fauntleroy Creek on the Salmon in the Schools – Seattle steering committee that coordinates the program for 71 schools in the city. “Without coho, the creek would have lost much of the life we’ve been working for 26 years to restore and the community would have lost a much-loved natural feature, a small taste of the wild in urban West Seattle.”
The state based its warning on last year’s meager return of coho spawners to Puget Sound and predictions of a low coho return this year. Warm water off the Oregon-Washington coast killed their prey and, without food, the fish that had survived predation and pollution to get that far died. No spawners came into Fauntleroy Creek last fall.
Based on early coho returns to area hatcheries, creek volunteers are cautiously optimistic about getting spawners this year. The annual drumming to call them in will be Sunday, October 30, at 5 pm at the fish-ladder viewpoint (SW Director and upper Fauntleroy Way SW).
Volunteers will start watching for spawners the following week when tides are high enough for the fish to have easy access to the mouth of the creek. Assuming veteran watchers spot fish, watch here for an invitation to join their ranks.
High Point Pond – the size of a small lake – is more like a wetland, temporarily, after its first draining in two years.
A concerned reader tipped us via e-mail, worried about the fish in the pond, so we went over to check it out, and then sought out information via the High Point Open Spaces Association, which maintains the pond as part of an agreement with Seattle Public Utilities. Community Association Manager Janell Gonyea explained:
The OSA grounds crew drains the pond periodically to inspect all of the components in the pond to determine if any maintenance is necessary. We check the inlet and outlet lines to make sure they are clear and we check the pond liner to see if it is exposed or not. We also check to see if there are invasive plant species that could alter or damage the pond liner. We check the emergency risers to make sure they are operating correctly and we inspect for sediment build up in the pond. We also inspect the re-circulation pump and will conduct routine maintenance on that.
The last time we drained the pond was in 2014 and at that time, everything was in good condition. We do not anticipate any problems with the pond at this time because it has been performing normally, but we do want to be proactive about examining the pond and its components to make sure that there is no maintenance needed. The fish will not be affected because there will be enough water left in the pond for the fish. The pond will begin refilling naturally. The weather report is calling for rain later this week, so the pond will begin filling with that rainfall and storm water.
Thanks also to the OSA’s Deborah Vandermar for pointing us to this info. The pond is part of the Natural Drainage Systems built into the High Point redevelopment a decade ago.
P.S. For a wider look at the drained pond, here’s our Instagram clip from this morning:
P.S. If you’re not familiar with the pond’s location – here’s a map.
New from “Diver Laura” James – a 360-degree view of what divers know as the “Alki Junkyard,” off the west end of public Alki shoreline (64th SW).
Laura says, “This was shot with ambient light in the 50’ range; the only lights were on my dive buddy Lamont’s camera. So you can see it’s really quite bright down there during the day (lots of ambient light unless a really heavy plankton bloom), and the diver lights primarily serve to restore the colors (red goes away first, due to the way water absorbs light).”
If you haven’t viewed this type of video before – provided it’s compatible with your browser, you should be able to click “play” and then click the video, using your cursor to “drag” it around, to see above, below, in front, behind … 360 degrees.
P.S. If you follow Diver Laura on Twitter/Periscope, you just might catch her “live” underwater – she’s done a few tests in the past few days.
Another big harvest for the fall edition of the Recycle Roundup free-dropoff event in Fauntleroy this past Sunday. Judy Pickens has the numbers, and the dates for next year:
Sunday’s fall recycle roundup at Fauntleroy Church brought in 9.25 tons for responsible recycling. The crew from 1 Green Planet unloaded just over 400 vehicles. The church’s green committee will host the 2017 roundups on Sunday, April 23, and Sunday, September 24.
When April gets closer, we’ll remind you, of course, especially once the “what will and won’t be accepted” list comes in.
Just stopped by Fauntleroy Church to see how the fall Recycle Roundup is going. You have until 3 pm to drop off recyclables for free – provided they’re on this (long) list of what 1 Green Planet is taking this time. Most memorable item we spotted during a quick look – a vintage copper “Combination” GE refrigerator/freezer.
The church is at 9140 California SW (you can’t get there directly from the main stretch of California – if you head west on Barton from 35th, the road becomes California for a short stretch before the Endolyne business district). It’s busy right now (a few minutes past noon) but they have enough help to keep everyone moving through quickly.