City Light says 10 homes are still out of power northeast of The Junction as part of an earlier outage that at one point was reported to be up to 90. According to a photo texted to us, this was another case of crow vs. transformer, with the bird making deadly contact at 38th/Dakota. The current estimate for repair completion is around 12:30 pm.
Though King County says the timeline’s not set yet, it’s circulating an alert about work that will dig up a section of road south of Alki Point soon. The alert begins:
Beginning later this month, a contractor working for King County will be making repairs to the County’s Alki Regulator Gate. This below-ground structure is located in Southwest Spokane St., near the corner of Beach Dr. Southwest. (see attached map). This facility is part of the County’s regional wastewater system; it helps to regulate wastewater flows going to the County’s West Seattle tunnel and pump station. These repairs are important to help avoid wastewater overflows into Puget Sound during times of high wastewater flows in the system.
See the full alert here (PDF, including a map). It says the work will last up to two weeks, with traffic-flagging for the duration, and that other projects are ahead, including improvements to the pump station in the area and installation of a “flow meter” near Spokane/62nd.
9:13 AM: Thanks to Steve for the tip about a Comcast outage in Admiral. According to a tweet from @ComcastWA, it’s because of a “fiber cut” and should be fixed within an hour or so … let us know if that window passes and you’re still out.
9:43 AM UPDATE: Steve says the service is back up.
At least for this area, it’s a new spin on the recurring telephone scam in which someone calls a business and claims its electricity is about to be cut off unless it makes a payment right now. Over the weekend, Donna Burns from Giannoni’s Pizzeria in Westwood Village – which had received the power-bill-scam call at least twice – reported a caller, claiming to be with Puget Sound Energy, making demands: “After I received the ‘we’re turning off your gas in 30 minutes if you don’t pay $500′ call, I immediately called PSE myself (their emergency number) and confirmed that it was in fact, a fraudulent call.” She was due to follow up with the Seattle Police fraud unit today. Bottom line is that if anyone calls you – business or personal line – claiming you need to make a payment now or face disconnection, DON’T DO IT – even if you are worried you might have bonafide bill trouble, hang up and contact the utility directly yourself to find out your status. (Searching the Web before publishing this, we see reports of this in some other parts of PSE’s service territory, but it doesn’t seem to have been as widely reported in Seattle as the electric-bill scam.)
(Project site aerial photo by Long B. Nguyen)
Work is scheduled this Saturday (July 12th) at the sewer-overflow-control project across from Lowman Beach, where King County is building a million-gallon underground storage tank to reduce overflows from the nearby Murray Pump Station. The county sent special notice of this today since it’s outside the bounds of the usual work; the notice says the work will be done between 9 am and 5 pm Saturday, and: “Nearly all the work will be completed with hand tools. No drilling, pumping or other construction activities will occur. Some materials may be moved around the site with a forklift.”
The notice described the work as “repairs” so we followed up to ask what was broken; project spokesperson Doug Marsano replied that it is “general maintenance work on the drill equipment used to install the outer ring of the tank. Some of the project’s support equipment may also be maintained in order to prevent breakdowns. Doing the maintenance on Saturday when the equipment isn’t being used helps keep the project on schedule.” And so far, he said, it is “going well and is on schedule.” That schedule calls for completion in 2016.
Power was out in the Seaview Addition from roughly 6 pm – 7:30 pm, on July 5th. A crow hit a transformer, and was killed. Immediately, a couple dozen crows set up in the heavily wooded lot across the alley, and made a raucus cawing dirge. There were several crows still cawing when City Light showed up an hour later. They indicated they were familiar with this crow behavior. They soon had the power restored, with a bird shield over the transformer. Only a few homes were affected by the outage.
This is the third outage of this type in the past week or so.
Charissa e-mailed with word of a power outage in the 48th/Edmunds area that she says started when a “transformer blew” around 9:30 am. The City Light site says 11 households are affected and they’re hoping to have the power back within a few hours. It’s notable because this is at least the second time this week that area’s had a small (double-digit or fewer customers) outage. The cause is listed, however, as still officially being “investigated.”
10:44 AM: Charissa says the power’s back on: “It was a crow pecking at a live wire attached to the transformer. Seattle City Light guy said happens all the time. they electrocute themselves. very sad. City Light puts a piece of plastic down to help prevent it from happening again.” So often, that’s what the small outages turn out to be.
(Outage zone, screengrabbed from City Light map)
12:29 AM: Thanks to Kevin and Jason for initial tips (firstname.lastname@example.org) – the City Light outage map now confirms an outage in Arbor Heights and Brace Point. They both reported an explosion-type sound preceding the power problem (for Jason, it’s out; for Kevin, it flickered). City Light says 134 households are affected and estimates restoration by 3 am (remember, it’s always more of a “guesstimate” at this point).
1:29 AM: The map now blames the outage on “tree” and estimates power back by 9 am.
9 AM NOTE: Jason says in comments that the power returned around 4:45.
Why 4-year-old West Seattle Reservoir needs a multimillion-dollar retrofit – and Myrtle Reservoir is expected to, tooJune 18, 2014 at 11:18 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 29 Comments
(SPU photo inside West Seattle Reservoir in May 2010, not long before it was filled)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Only four years after it went into service, the underground West Seattle Reservoir in Highland Park needs a $7.6 million earthquake-resistance retrofit.
Work will start this summer, while the city and its consultants determine the scope of retrofitting that is also expected for our area’s other underground water facility, Myrtle Reservoir in Gatewood, as well as for two others in the city, Beacon and Maple Leaf.
We talked today with Seattle Public Utilities and its consultants about the problem, the solution, and the work ahead.
This was foreshadowed a year and a half ago; we made note of it here in November 2012, following up after The Seattle Times (WSB partner) broke the news that the reservoirs’ designer, MWH, had told the city about what SPU calls “possible seismic deficiencies in their work.” SPU subsequently announced that testing would be done to find out about those potential deficiencies and what would be needed to remedy them.
They didn’t expect the testing would take as long as it did. West Seattle Reservoir is the first one for which a seismic review has been finished and a retrofit plan laid out.
7:41 PM: 54 customers (households, since it’s in a residential area) in Gatewood are out of power right now, according to the Seattle City Light outage map (screengrab above). It’s currently estimating restoration around 10:30 tonight, but take note, that’s usually more guesstimate than estimate. The map lists “bird/animal” as the cause.
1:23 AM: City Light’s map shows the outage is over.
Don’t be fooled if you get a call from someone claiming to be from Seattle City Light and that you need to pay money NOW to avoid power-service disconnection. Last November, we wrote about this scam hitting local businesses. And tonight, West Seattle’s Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) says somebody just tried it on them today – they weren’t fooled.
A guy calling himself James from Seattle City Light called the Feedback and got our manager. “James” said we were due to be disconnected for non-payment. He said there was a technician in the area and would arrive within about 30 minutes so we needed to act quickly. He wanted her to go to Rite Aid and get a Money Pack for $260 then call back (to a different number than he was calling on) to process the payment. Fortunately (the manager) was sharp enough to call me and we determined it was a scam. Here were the clues:
*We had just paid our bill and had reference numbers to prove it. James said the payments didn’t show on our account. When I asked what account number he was looking at, he wouldn’t tell me.
*James called from a number that didn’t have a city-type prefix (usually 684).
*The number at Feedback is not the contact number we have on file at City Light. When (the manager) tried the number James gave her to make the payment, James answered. When he recognized her voice he hung up.
*The amount ($260) bore no relation to any of our bills. Anyone who has dealt with disconnection knows that balances have to be paid in full to stop the disconnect.
*Anyone from City Light that calls about a disconnection has the ability to take a payment. There is no need to call another number.
*Most telling, there is no way City Light is paying anyone on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to go out and do power disconnects.
*I called police and reported this and they told me it is a currently running scam around town.
Also of note – when this scam went around exactly a year ago, City Light explained on its website that it does NOT cut off power for one late payment – you would get at least two written notifications. This kind of scam is a crime, so if someone tries it on you, call police, as the Feedback crew did.
We usually take it directly to recycling (and really should sign up for e-billing, since we always e-pay) but for some reason, when ours arrived this week, we looked at the newsletter – and discovered something we hadn’t heard. It’s small, but if you have routines around bill payment, you might want to know: Seattle City Light is changing meter-reading routes, mostly south of downtown, and that’s changing the billing dates. Go here to read about it and see how/whether yours is changing, either by clicking on a map or entering part of your account number.
Several questions this morning about the crew cutting up pavement and blocking a northbound lane on Delridge Way at Andover. Though there is a project on the drawing boards for that area, this is NOT related – SDOT‘s Marybeth Turner checked around and found out that Seattle Public Utilities was doing emergency sewer-repair work. (We haven’t been able to get back there in recent hours so not sure if the crew’s still there.)
4:49 PM: We’ve received multiple reports – including this photo courtesy of Kerry – about a water outage in the Hansen View area, southeast of The Triangle (35th/Hudson, 35th/Edmunds so far). Anyone else?
6:27 PM UPDATE: Thanks to Kerry for noting in a comment that the water’s back on – and thanks to everyone else who helped flesh out the details; very helpful since SPU does not have an outage map along the lines of what City Light has.
6:29 PM UPDATE: … maybe not for everyone, per Tracey‘s comment.
If you live in or travel through Sunrise Heights or Westwood, you probably know the “roadside raingarden” construction for the first phase of the Barton Basin Combined Sewer Overflow Control project continues to intensify. The King County Wastewater Treatment Division is building “green stormwater infrastructure” in eight blocks this year, seven blocks next year – 91 roadside raingardens in all. En route to a meeting last night, we noticed the activity on one block, 34th SW north of Holden (map), so went back today for a closer look (above). The county is now publishing weekly updates on its website – including what’s happening in which blocks:
For any residents who didn’t get block-by-block informational flyers, those also are available online. This project is part of state-mandated work to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Puget Sound; in this area, it’s called Barton because the wastewater ends up at the Barton Pump Station north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock.
P.S. The county is scheduled to present an update on its other in-progress Combined Sewer Overflow Control project, the Murray-basin-serving storage tank across from Lowman Beach, at tonight’s Morgan Community Association meeting (7 pm, The Kenney [WSB sponsor], lower-level meeting rooms, 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW).
9:18 AM: Seattle City Light estimates the power outage affecting a section of southwestern West Seattle might not be fixed until after 1 pm. SCL says “equipment failure” is to blame for the outage at 77 homes in The Arroyos. (Thanks to Susan for the tip.)
3:55 PM UPDATE: The estimates of power-restoration time have moved back, and we checked with Scott Thomsen of SCL about the status:
There is a crew working on this outage. We know that it involves underground equipment. We do not yet know what piece of equipment failed or where that failure took place. The crew is troubleshooting the system to locate the problem and identify it so they can make repairs. The … estimate for restoration of service is only an estimate and could change once the crew finds the damage and determines what is needed to fix it.
11:50 PM UPDATE: Looks like it’s finally over as of late tonight, after, as is pointed out in a comment, growing at one point to almost 200 homes. We’ll ask SCL again tomorrow what the cause turned out to be.
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Turns out it was not entirely resolved – see comment below – so we checked with SCL’s Thomsen again this morning:
Yesterday crews found that an underground cable failed, which caused the outage. They switched around the damage to restore power. A permanent repair involving the replacement of the cable is being scheduled.
Today, crews are investigating an outage on that same circuit. This is limited to equipment in a single underground vault. They are working to determine what piece of equipment failed. It is possible that the two events are connected. If the vault equipment failed first, it could have caused a surge that the cable could not withstand.
When the crew identified the failed cable, they believed they had discovered the problem and restored service to all customers. In some cases like this, a customer’s call to tell us they are still out is how we learn that there is other damage that needs to be fixed.
After cutting trees as part of a soil cleanup at two of West Seattle’s six “surplus” ex-substations, over the objections of community advocates including the WS Green Space Coalition, City Light said it would try a different technique at the Fauntleroy and Genesee Hill sites – “vactoring” contaminated soil in a way that WSGSC was told should make cleanup possible without destroying the trees. Thanks to a reader tip, we learned this work is happening at the Fauntleroy site (just around the corner from the Endolyne business district-let) right now. Meantime, as noted in our most recent report, the Green Space Coalition is continuing to advocate for a larger community role in determining the sites’ future – rather than what has been the usual past path of seeing them sold for housing development. City Light has said it could send disposition-plan legislation to the City Council – which has the final say – as soon as the third quarter of this year.
(City photo of Fauntleroy ex-substation site)
Another City Council committee has a West Seattle issue on its agenda tomorrow: As first mentioned here last week, the council’s Energy Committee meets at 9:30 am tomorrow at City Hall with an agenda including a briefing on City Light‘s surplus West Seattle (and vicinity) substations. Mary Fleck from the West Seattle Green Spaces Coalition will be part of the briefing; she tells WSB it’s one of two presentations downtown tomorrow, and they’re inviting West Seattleites to come to either or both, to support the goal of “slowing down the ‘disposition’ process because the best future solution may be to ‘re-purpose’ the land for public use rather than to sell it to the highest bidder for development.” The second presentation is at 3 pm tomorrow before the Urban Forestry Commission in Seattle Municipal Tower room 2750 (700 Fifth Avenue). Meantime, at two of the sites, City Light has crews working this week on what it says is necessary cleanup work because of soil contaminants – the Andover site on Pigeon Point and the Fauntleroy site in Endolyne. Fleck says that while WSGSC is disappointed that SCL removed trees at two sites including Andover, they’re encouraged to hear that the cleanup work at Fauntleroy will use “vactoring” to try to save trees while removing other vegetation.
Who’ll take over ex-substations? West Seattle Green Space Coalition meets Sunday; City Council discussion WednesdayMarch 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off
Two meetings in the next four days will deal with the six ex-substations City Light is getting rid of:
GREEN SPACE COALITION TOMORROW: Can’t make meetings on weeknights? The West Seattle Green Space Coalition, working on the future of six City Light-owned ex-substation sites in our area, invites you to its meeting tomorrow afternoon:
The West Seattle Green Space Coalition will meet Sunday, March 9 at 3:00 pm at the West Seattle (Delridge) Public Library. Topics will include follow-up on the WSGSC’s March 5th meeting with representatives from Seattle City Light and Tom Rasmussen regarding SCL’s project to decide within months what to do with former substations that have sat idle for decades, including ones in West Seattle. We made good progress on how to work with the City to come up with best ways to give the Neighborhoods more time to keep these open spaces for the community.
Here’s our report on the Wednesday tour mentioned above. Then on Wednesday:
CITY COUNCIL ENERGY COMMITTEE: A briefing on the ex-substations is on the agenda for the 9:30 am Wednesday (March 12th) meeting of the Energy Committee, chaired by Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Mary Fleck from the WSGSC is among those who will be participating. You can see the city’s slide deck here, including this slide outlining what happens next:
The Wednesday meeting is in council chambers at City Hall downtown; there will be a public comment period.
Update: Another West Seattle power outage affected ~2,000 after tree fell into Highland Park Way wiresMarch 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 16 Comments
(Looks like the early-morning outage map, but this is the NEW one)
1:34 PM: It feels like déja vu to those who were up for the two-hour power outage in the middle of the night – because the footprint is just about the same. About 2,000 homes and businesses are without power right now, according to the City Light map.
(ADDED: Highland Park Way closure; photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
1:53 PM UPDATE: From City Light:
A large tree fell into wires near Highland Park Way SW and SW Othello Street. It broke several of the tie wires that keep the power lines attached to the insulators on the poles.
Crews are working to reroute power around the damage. This will bring about 75 percent of the affected customers back into service in the next 60-90 minutes.
Crews will then remove the tree and re-hang the wires in order to restore service to the remaining customers. We estimate being able to get that done about 5 p.m.
2:20 PM: One commenter reports power coming back. A few hundred customers have dropped off the City Light map.
2:39 PM UPDATE: We’ve added a photo from HP Way, which is indeed closed; Metro is sending messages about reroutes, including Route 131.
5:21 PM UPDATE: Back open, per Datamuse, in comments.
It’s been a blustery night so far, and now more than 2,000 homes and businesses are without power in eastern West Seattle – parts of Puget Ridge and Highland Park – as well as South Park and White Center. City Light‘s map shows the extent but does not mention a specific cause yet – simply, “investigating.” (The image above is a screen shot of what the map shows right now.)
5:13 AM UPDATE: SCL now says a tree was to blame for the outage. Commenter Jen says the power’s back on in Riverview – that’s not reflected on the SCL map yet.
6:06 AM UPDATE: The map now shows everyone’s back on (please let us know if you’re not!).
GREEN SPACE COALITION TOUR WITH COUNCILMEMBER RASMUSSEN: Community advocates including members of the West Seattle Green Space Coalition, who hope to keep the long-deactivated sites as open space, hosted Councilmember Tom Rasmussen this morning on a tour that started at the Dakota site on Genesee Hill:
Rasmussen tells WSB, “I support the efforts of the community to keep the sites as open space. The challenge is finding the funds to do so. I am researching and checking how we can do that.” Some City Light sites have become parks – in West Seattle, those include Dakota Place Park north of The Junction and Nantes Park along Admiral Way – while others in the city have been sold to housing developers. Five of the West Seattle sites are zoned for single-family homebuilding; the one on 9th SW near Westcrest Park is zoned Lowrise 2.
We couldn’t stay for today’s full tour, but organizers were expecting also to visit the Fauntleroy and Andover sites. We reported back in December about what City Light described as “cleanup” work at the latter site on Pigeon Point, work to which the WSGSC had taken exception because of vegetation removal; the city says it’s continuing that work. From SCL’s environmental-compliance manager William Devereaux:
Tree cutting and clearing was completed several weeks ago. The final phase of work involves the actual digging up of the contaminated soil putting clean soil in, reseeding grass, and replanting. NRC Environmental Services, a company from South Park, is carrying out the work. I heard that there were some questions regarding chalk/paint lines outside of the site. Before we dig on any site we have to have all of the utilities located to ensure that we do not disturb them. There will not be any digging outside of our substation site and the SDOT right of way immediately adjacent to the site.
When we start working on the SDOT right of way portion, there will be one-way traffic only, with flaggers between 21st and 22nd Ave SW on SW Andover St and between SW Charlestown St and SW Andover St on 21st Ave. This portion is not anticipated to start until next week. We are anticipating that the entire soil removal and backfill will be complete within 2 weeks.
One of the advocates on today’s tour, Cass Turnbull of PlantAmnesty, contends that “it makes little sense to choose a remediation method before the final disposition of the property is determined.” She says that if it’s determined the sites will be kept as green spaces, there are other ways of dealing with the reported low-level soil contamination that has had the city cutting and digging.
The Green Space Coalition is planning to take its case to the City Council’s Energy Committee next week. It’s up to the council to make the final decision on the ex-substations’ future, once SCL has made its recommendations.
We just checked with King County Wastewater Treatment regarding today’s work at the 53rd Avenue Pump Station, and spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson tells us the crew is expecting to wrap up early. So the work that’s been affecting the sidewalk/trail zone by the pump station will likely be done closer to 1 pm than the originally announced 3 pm.
If you run, walk, rollerblade, skateboard, ride, etc., along Alki Beach during the day, you might have to change your plans next Tuesday, according to this alert just out of the WSB inbox:
On Tuesday, March 4, a King County crew will perform maintenance to the 53rd Avenue Pump Station, a below-ground facility near the corner of Alki Avenue Southwest and 53rd Avenue Southwest, on the west side of the street next to the sidewalk and waterside walking path.
Work will take place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and will involve opening a hatch to replace the pump station’s carbon filter. The crew will need up to three vehicles for this work, and while the replacement work is under way, there could be some increase in noise and odors.
We have the city’s approval to close off the work area, including closing the sidewalk and walking path, but we’ll try to maintain access for walkers, joggers and bicyclist as much as possible. It’s possible that the work will require us to detour foot and bicycle traffic to the other side of the street.
This is the pump station that was expanded over a 2+-year period between 2008 and 2010.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:54 AM: Though at one point the “every other week pickup” idea appeared to be on a fast track to approval, the presentation that Seattle Public Utilities will make to a City Council committee next Tuesday paints a fairly negative picture. See the full presentation here. We’ve pulled out a few slides – above, the “downside,” which includes “significant resistance.” Next, the effects – basically, some residents would actually pay more for less-frequent pickups, while others would save no more than a few dollars:
To help increase recycling, SPU recommends some other possibilities:
Just before finishing this story, we learned about this note in The Seattle Times (WSB partner) – saying the mayor has made the call not to proceed (we’re checking with his office now). We first reported back in November that the City Council would decide early this year whether to go citywide with the idea, which had gone through a test run in four neighborhoods in 2012, including part of Highland Park.
11:07 AM UPDATE: And the official announcement has arrived from the mayor’s office, saying he read the same report excerpted above, and that’s what led him to turn thumbs-down on the idea – read on:
(Click image to see full-size PDF)
MURRAY PROJECT ‘HAUL ROUTES’: Community members have long been asking which route trucks will use to get to and from the Murray (basin) CSO project site across from Lowman Beach, once excavation begins for its million-gallon storage tank. Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker got the word on Thursday that the routes had been finalized and published on the project website – see the map above. We asked KCWT when people along those routes will see the resulting truck traffic. From spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson:
Peak truck traffic is expected between April and December 2014 for the following activities: between April and July during the placement of secant piles that will act as support walls; between August and October for the excavation of the storage tank; and between October and December for tank construction (bringing in concrete and materials to the site.) During these time periods, the truck traffic will occur all day long. Work hours are 7-6 on weekdays. Any weekend work would be a special request by the contractor and if it was granted, King County would notify the community. Congestion at the site will be minimized by staging trucks away from the site and having them arrive at the site in a coordinated manner.
As for when the “primary” route would be used and when the “secondary” route would be used instead, that information isn’t available yet but we’ll add it when it is.
BARTON PROJECT PRE-CONSTRUCTION WORK: The Barton (basin) CSO project involves roadside raingardens on certain blocks in Sunrise Heights – and part of the support structure involves wells:
The construction was previewed during the recent pre-construction meetings (WSB coverage here). What’s being drilled at the south end of each raingarden block – 15 blocks getting 91 raingardens in the next year and a half – is a “deep infiltration well.” That’s considered pre-construction work; this year’s official construction schedule, block by block, is here.
Before (or while) sporting Seahawks blue and green tomorrow, you’re invited to join the West Seattle Green Space Coalition in a rally.
On Sunday at noon (before the Super Bowl game), according to coalition leader Mary Fleck, “neighbors at 50th Ave SW & Dakota will be tying ribbons around the trees at the Dakota St. surplus substation to express the neighbors’ love for the wooded, green space.”
According to a detailed announcement on the Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council mailing list, it’s feared that Seattle City Light will remove the trees and shrubbery from the site soon as it continues what it says are cleanup operations at surplus ex-substations around the area – though it has not yet presented the City Council with its recommendations of what to do with the sites, 6 of which are in West Seattle. The sites in Pigeon Point and Highland Park already have had vegetation removed, and Fleck has filed complaints with the city saying it was done without permits/reviews.
Most other ex-substation sites around the city sold in recent years have gone to residential developers; the Genesee Hill site that’s the focus of tomorrow’s rally is just under 10,000 square feet and is zoned residential, SF (single-family) 5000. The WSGSC wants the utility to slow the disposition process to increase the possibility some sites might be preserved as greenspace.
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