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Seattle City Light’s iconic sign to lose its neon

CityLightSignHighRes
(Photo courtesy Seattle City Light)

If you use the West Seattle Bridge east of 99 at night, it’s a landmark of sorts – Seattle City Light‘s big red neon sign. Soon, its neon will be gone. Here’s SCL’s announcement:

Seattle City Light has contracted with Seattle-based Western Neon Custom Sign Builders to replace the neon lights in the iconic City Light signs at its South Service Center at 4th Ave. S. and S. Spokane Street with LED rope lighting, beginning July 26.

The iconic signs will go dark during the project, which is expected to last up to two weeks. Once complete, the new lights will resemble the classic amber color of the original signs, which were built in the 1920s. The signs do not have Seattle landmark status, but they are the last remaining pair of full “CITY LIGHT” signs from that era. City Light historically had similar signs at its Yesler Substation and control center, the Cedar Falls powerhouse and the Lake Union steam plant.

“Historic signs give continuity to public spaces, becoming part of the community memory. They sometimes become landmarks in themselves, almost without regard for the building to which they are attached, or the property on which they stand,” said City Light Historic Resource Specialist and Architectural Historian Rebecca Ossa, quoting from the National Park Service’s Preservation Brief on Historic Signs. “This project allows City Light to preserve a bit of its early history while demonstrating energy efficient lighting for the thousands of people who pass by the sign every day.”

Replacement of the neon lights in the South Service Center signs is needed because they have outlived their expected life span and have become hard to maintain. Using LED lighting will save energy and save money while maintaining the historical look of the signs.

A team of employees from City Light’s Facilities and Customer Energy Solutions divisions and its Lighting Design Lab designed the changes. The last upgrade to the signs was in the late 1980s.

The City Light signs are actually 18 separate signs. Each letter is its own, separate sign. One set faces west and one set faces east toward Interstate 5.

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From the FYI file: Three West Seattle sewer-repair projects

If you live near any of these projects, we hope you’ve received the notification flyers already. Otherwise, you might have seen “no parking” signage and wondered – so we’re passing along the news from Seattle Public Utilities. Follow the “official notice” links for full details, including maps:

TODAY: In the 1600 block of Edgewood SW in North Admiral, SPU expects to start emergency repair work today on a broken sewer line and “roadway void.” Here’s the official notice.

THIS WEEK: On 46th SW north of Hudson, SPU expects to start sewer-repair work in two spots starting this week. Here’s the official notice.

NEXT WEEK:: One week from today, SPU expects to start work on mainline sewer repair along 50th SW between Spokane and Charlestown. Here’s the official notice.

UPDATE: ‘Bad cable’ blamed for hourlong West Seattle power outage affecting 3,770+ in High Point, Upper Morgan, Gatewood, Fauntleroy, Westwood

FIRST REPORT, 3:33 AM: Just a few minutes ago, the power suddenly went out here on the Fauntleroy/Gatewood line. Anyone else? Not on the City Light outage map yet.

powermap

3:38 AM: Now it is. More than 3,770 customers (customer = home or business). Looks like roughly Brandon on the north, Henderson on the south.

3:51 AM: No word yet from City Light re: the cause, and we’re not hearing anything related on the scanner. SCL map now suggests a 10 am restoration time, but please keep in mind, that’s only a guesstimate – could be sooner, could be later.

4:05 AM: Though City Light’s Twitter feed is insisting on saying the outage is in Delridge, it’s not. No part of Delridge involved. High Point, Sunrise Heights, Upper Morgan, Gatewood, Fauntleroy, a bit of Westwood.

4:32 AM: Our power just came back on, in Upper Fauntleroy. (added) From comments, sounds like most other affected areas are back too, but the City Light map hasn’t caught up just yet.

4:40 AM: And now it has – outage over after a little more than an hour. Via Twitter, SCL says the outage was the result of “a bad cable.”

Beachfront parkland or beachfront home? Seattle Parks recommends moving ahead with county-to-city transfer of 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW

IMG_2979 (1)
(WSB photo, from April – Cove Park at left, 8923 Fauntleroy house & beach at right)

A month and a half after a community meeting (WSB coverage here) on whether to take over a King County-owned beachfront home at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW, the Seattle Parks recommendation is in – they support moving ahead with a swap of sorts that would in effect expand Cove Park next to the Fauntleroy ferry dock. Here’s the news release we just received:

After considering public comments, input from a public meeting, and City policy, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) has recommended that King County Wastewater Treatment Division move forward with the street vacation request which would involve the transferring of the King County owned property located at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW to the City of Seattle. Having made this recommendation, the next step in the process involves King County Wastewater Treatment Division applying for a street vacation. This is one of many steps in the process prior to the Seattle City Council making a final decision on the street vacation and taking ownership of the property.

In 2015, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division finished an upgrade to the Barton Pump Station by the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal to accommodate West Seattle’s growing population. To build the new pump station, King County acquired the property just to the north of SW Barton Street for use during construction. Once the project was finished, King County began the process to surplus the property. With the City expressing an interest in the property, this raised the possibility of trading the Fauntleroy Way SW property to the City for a partial vacation of SW Barton St. (under the county’s pump station) which the County is interested in obtaining.

This potential trade is not solely an SPR issue, but rather a City issue that needs the input of multiple departments for an adequate review. The comprehensive City review required by a street vacation application will help provide the information necessary to fully inform the public, address unanswered questions, and lead to an informed decision by City Council.

The street vacation process will be run by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and will include plenty of opportunities for further public input and dialogue.

For more information on this proposal, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/cove_park/addition.htm or contact Chip Nevins, SPR, at chip.nevins@seattle.gov or 206-233-3879.

The possibility of Seattle taking over the county-owned house and 35-foot-wide strip of beach (aerial map here) was first explained publicly at April’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting (WSB coverage here).

Why the average electric bill is about to go up ~$1

(UPDATED 3:49 PM to clarify that the average bill will go up $1 – your bill may vary)

(Seattle City Light image: Gorge Dam)
The average electricity bill is going up about a dollar starting next month. Seattle City Light‘s announcement explains the surcharge it’s about to add, and might be keeping for a few years. In short – blame it on the weather:

Low revenue from the surplus energy Seattle City Light sells to other utilities has triggered a 1.5 percent surcharge on electricity rates, starting in August.

City Light generates power at its hydroelectric projects. When the utility has more electricity than its customers need, it sells that power to other utilities and uses the money to keep prices low for its retail customers. For 2016, City Light anticipated $60 million in revenue from such wholesale energy sales, but the utility is on track to earn only about $43.5 million as a result of warm spring weather at a time of low prices on the wholesale energy market. The warm weather melted mountain snow earlier than is typical, which meant City Light’s hydroelectric projects were producing surplus energy at a time of lower demand and lower prices than the utility might have seen in June or July.

To make up the difference between what was expected in the budget and actual revenue, City Light draws from a rate stabilization account created in 2010 to offset the volatility that comes with generating and selling hydropower. If the amount in the account dips to $90 million or below, a 1.5 percent surcharge is automatically applied to every customer’s bill until the account is refilled to $100 million.

The rate stabilization account had $89.1 million in it June 30, which triggers a surcharge that will be applied to customer bills, starting in August. The surcharge will add $1 to the typical residential customer bill every month. This is the first time an automatic surcharge has been triggered since the rate stabilization account was created.

Based on current financial forecasts, City Light projects that the surcharge could stay in place into 2019. Should the rate stabilization account’s balance fall to $80 million or below, the surcharge would automatically increase to 3 percent.

Once the account balance is refilled to $100 million, the surcharge is automatically removed. If strong surplus energy sales ever push the rate stabilization account’s balance to more than $125 million, the City Council can choose to reduce rates, have City Light pay down existing debt or direct the utility to pay for capital expenses with cash instead of borrowing money.

Computer trouble at local Seattle Public Library branches

Thanks to Kay and Jissy for the tip: If you’re going to a local Seattle Public Library branch, be aware the West Seattle-area branches (Delridge, High Point, Southwest, Admiral, South Park) have been having computer trouble today. We just confirmed this with SPL spokesperson Andra Addison. It’s blamed on a fire affecting fiber optic lines, and while we don’t have specifics, apparently it was last night’s fire in the 4800 block of Delridge – not near the library, but the initial burst of flame was so huge (see the reader photo added to our story) that it may well have affected utilities. We’re trying to find out more; Addison says repairs are in progress.

Bird blamed for West Seattle power outage

June 30, 2016 9:43 pm
|    Comments Off on Bird blamed for West Seattle power outage
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

Thanks for the tips – the City Light map now verifies a small power outage in a residential area northeast of The Junction, near 39th and Genesee. It lists “bird/animal” as the cause, and resident Keri verifies that, saying, “It’s unusual for our power to be out — we almost always survive the storms and other outages. Turns out a crow took out the transformer. It’s going to take a few hours to get it back on.”

Murray CSO Control Project: Noisier, round-the-clock, through Friday

The combined-sewer-overflow project across from Lowman Beach is about to generate extra noise for up to three days. Even if you’re not right next to the project, sound carries, so take note of this announcement from the King County Wastewater Treatment District:

Starting Wednesday, June 29, King County’s contractor for the Murray CSO Control Project will begin connecting the Murray Pump Station to the same electrical power system as the underground storage tank.

The connection is needed to ensure a more reliable power source for the pump station when the facility becomes operational this fall. Crews will use a temporary generator to the site to maintain power to the pump station while new electrical connections are put in place. The temporary generator will be placed next to the Murray Pump Station in the southeast corner of Lowman Beach Park.

This work is expected to take 48 hours to complete and will require the temporary generator to run continuously overnight through Friday, July 1. Increased noise levels from the generator are expected. Noise from the generator may be more noticeable at night when ambient noise levels are lower. The contractor will take measures to mitigate the noise emitted by the generator to the extent possible and will monitor noise periodically during the operation. The generator will be placed as far away from the nearest residences as possible.

A small crew will work inside the facility building at night to complete the power upgrade using handheld equipment. Indoor work will be limited to quiet, low-impact activities. You may notice lights on inside the building and crews going to or coming from the facility building.

Questions or concerns? Project hotline: 206-205-9186, around the clock.

West Seattle power outage: 92 customers in Upper Alki

June 22, 2016 1:28 pm
|    Comments Off on West Seattle power outage: 92 customers in Upper Alki
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

1:28 PM: Thanks to Todd for the tip via Twitter: 92 homes in Upper Alki, mostly west of Schmitz Park, are without electricity, according to the City Light map, which says the cause is still under investigation.

2:29 PM: According to the outage map, the power’s back on.

Murray CSO project to add Sunday work

June 17, 2016 10:36 am
|    Comments Off on Murray CSO project to add Sunday work
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

Just in from the King County Wastewater Treatment District, as the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project across from Lowman Beach continues advancing toward completion by year’s end:

King County’s contractor for the Murray CSO Control Project will begin working on Sundays inside the facility building starting as early as this Sunday, June 19th.

Work will occur during daytime hours and will be limited to quiet, indoor activities. A small crew will be conducting electrical and mechanical work inside the building using handheld equipment. This work will not exceed noise levels outlined by City noise ordinance. You may notice crews going to or coming from the site.

Thank you for your continued patience during construction. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns by email, by calling the project hotline at 206-205-9186, or by stopping by our booth at the Morgan Junction Community Festival this Saturday from 10 am-5 pm.

Comcast outage reported in North Delridge/Pigeon Point

While spot outages are reported fairly frequently, we’ve received several reports of this one, so it could be relatively widespread – we’ve heard from Comcast customers from North Delridge east to Pigeon Point. One customer says they’ve been told it’s supposed to be back on by 10 pm. Any other areas?

West Seattle brown-water battle: The Big Flush resumes Sunday

Flushing Map_Area Completed_FINAL
After an unannounced three-week break, Seattle Public Utilities crews will resume flushing work this weekend, continuing to clear local water mains of sediment (mostly rust buildup). SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin sent this progress report with word of what’s next, including the map you see above:

SPU will resume water main flushing in West Seattle Sunday night, June 19, starting on SW Donald Street between California Avenue SW and 44th Avenue SW.

We took a three-week break from flushing to allow our staff to assess our progress, make adjustments and plan for the next sequence of flushes.

To date, the SPU flushing crew has flushed about 10 miles of pipe in West Seattle to minimize discolored water.

Flushing results have been very positive: water is flushed until clear and the crew is measuring chlorine and turbidity (cloudiness) throughout the process to make sure water quality standards are met at the end of each flush.

The attached map [above] shows the area that has been completed. We anticipate finishing the remaining sections of Area 1 (shaded in purple) this summer.

In the fall, SPU anticipates starting to flush Area 2, which will be in the 498 pressure zone, from approximately Myrtle Reservoir north to SW Spokane Street.

SPU reiterates that if you have any water-quality issues – even if it’s brown water that the flushing might have stirred up on its way to clearing things out – please call them, 24/7, at 206-386-1800.

P.S. For more backstory on The Big Flush, here’s our previous report.

UPDATE: Water-line break in North Delridge

waterbreak

ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:23 PM: Heads up if you’ll be traveling Delridge Way near Edmunds any time soon – utility crews are working in the middle of the street. We noticed running water on the edge of the northbound side of the street, and we just received one reader note saying they had called Seattle Public Utilities and been told there’s a water-line break. They also report reduced water pressure at their residence. We’ll be checking with SPU’s media team ASAP to see if we can find out more.

9:44 PM: We haven’t heard back from SPU yet but multiple commenters in the area say they’re without water.

10:33 PM: Now we’ve heard from SPU, which says an 8-inch line broke, no obvious cause. It was first reported by someone who saw the water bubbling up in the street late this afternoon; they cut off service in the area around 7:30 pm for repairs. 110 customers (homes/businesses) are affected, and they’re hoping to restore service by midnight.

11:03 PM: Marieke from SPU just called again with an update – she says they’re turning the water back on right now. It was a “horizontal break” and 10 feet of pipe had to be repaired. Your water might be discolored for a while when it comes back on, so let it run a bit, she says, and it should clear up.

UPDATE: Power outage in Westwood area

11:56 AM: Thanks to the texter who tipped us to this: Seattle City Light is investigating a power outage in the Westwood area. Its map shows 44 customers (homes/businesses) without electricity, north of Roxbury and east of 27th SW. No cause is listed yet, but the texter reported hearing an “explosion” – no Seattle Fire dispatches in the area, though.

3:08 PM: Just checked – still out, after more than three hours. SCL’s map attributes the outage to “equipment failure” and guesstimates that power will be restored by early evening.

6:41 PM: According to the SCL map, the power’s back on.

UTILITY WORK ALERT: Sewer repairs on 35th SW starting next Tuesday

sewermap

Seattle Public Utilities says it will be repairing a sewer line along 35th SW between Juneau and Raymond starting next Tuesday (May 31st). The flyer it’s circulating in the area says, “The mainline at this location is damaged and requires replacement. Homes and businesses will continue to receive normal service during the repair.” They expect the work, at five spots on the line (shown above), to take about two weeks, with crews there 7 am-4 pm weekdays. While service will continue, there will be mobility effects, including parking restrictions, limited access to driveways during construction work hours, and the closure of “the center two lanes of 35th SW” while the work is under way.

Driver to hospital after car hits pole on Admiral Way

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(WSB photo)

Thanks to the texter who tipped us about this: City Light is repairing a pole on eastbound Admiral Way near Belvidere right now after a driver hit it in the 5 am hour. Police told us at the scene just now that the driver was taken to the hospital with minor injuries; two houses nearby are without power. The aftermath of the crash is blocking one eastbound lane.

HOUSE OR PARKLAND? Fauntleroy Community Association’s fact sheet for beachfront house by Cove Park

Next Tuesday night brings the public meeting Seattle Parks promised for community comment on its potential “trade” with King County for 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW, a 35-foot-wide strip of beach with a single-family house, adjacent to community-maintained Cove Park, which is immediately north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock. The county bought the house to use as a construction office and staging area during the Barton Pump Station Upgrade project, which was finished last year. It’s talking with the city about trading the house for use as parkland if in exchange it gets a street vacation for land that’s part of the pump station. We covered a Parks presentation about this at the April meeting of the Fauntleroy Community Association. At its May meeting, FCA decided not to take a position on the possible trade but did commit to creating and circulating a “fact sheet” about the situation, and that’s what you can review at the top of this story.

The meeting, meantime, is at 6:30 pm Tuesday (May 24th) in the Emerald Room at The Hall at Fauntleroy on the south side of Fauntleroy Schoolhouse (9131 California SW). In-person input always has a big impact, but if you absolutely can’t make it, you can comment via e-mail to chip.nevins@seattle.gov.

UPDATE: 108-home West Seattle power outage over in Arroyos after 24 hours

2:04 PM: Just checked after a tip, and the Seattle City Light outage map confirms 108 customers (homes) are without electricity in The Arroyos (and part of south Arbor Heights), as of about 20 minutes ago. We’re checking – more to come.

3:17 PM: SCL says the cause of the outage is “equipment failure.” Their current guesstimate for restoration is just before 6 pm – but please remember that it’s only a guess; might happen later, or sooner.

11:26 PM: After almost 10 hours, the outage continues, and the restoration guesstimate is now 4:40 am.

2:50 PM SATURDAY: After 24 hours, the outage ended a short time ago, per a tweet from Kate.

The Big West Seattle Flush, Week 4: The battle against brown water and what you need to know as it continues

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Three weeks down, “several more months” to go.

Most late nights and early morning, somewhere in West Seattle, Seattle Public Utilities workers are flushing another section of our area’s aged water mains, to tackle the “brown water” problems that have vexed customers around the area.

To get the root cause – rust and sediment – out of the system, however, stirs it up in some spots – so, as was the case for a reader who e-mailed us early today, it gets temporarily worse in order to get better.

Meantime, we’ve checked with SPU for an update on how the project – first previewed here March 31st – is going, including one change in the plan, plus we have a firsthand look at what happens at a flushing scene:

Read More

Milestones ahead for Murray overflow-control project at Lowman Beach

May 10, 2016 7:27 pm
|    Comments Off on Milestones ahead for Murray overflow-control project at Lowman Beach
 |   Environment | Utilities | West Seattle news

(2010 WSB photo – generator truck at Lowman Beach after power outage-caused overflow)

What you see above shouldn’t ever be needed again at Lowman Beach, because of work that’s about to happen at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site and Murray Pump Station next door: A portable generator to power the pump station in times of trouble. Today’s update from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division explains why – along with providing an alert to work that will affect that end of Beach Drive starting tomorrow:

Lane closure on 7000 block of Beach Drive SW tomorrow – May 11 – while crews set standby generator inside facility

King County’s Murray Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project contractor will use a second crane to set a standby generator inside the facility building’s southern end. The standby generator will provide backup power to the entire facility and to the existing Murray Pump Station. The pump station currently does not have a standby generator, which created odor and overflow issues in the past.

Crews will use a second crane for one day to set the generator in place. Beach Drive SW will be narrowed to one lane to make space for the second crane. Flaggers will direct traffic on the 7000 block of Beach Drive SW. Drivers can expect delays of up to 15 minutes while the work occurs.

The contractor will then start installing the final section of the 5-foot-wide sewer pipe connecting the new tank to the existing pump station. The pipe will be installed along the southeast side of Beach Drive SW. It will take one month to install the pipe. Shoring installation will occur intermittently throughout the month. Increased noise and vibration is expected at times during shoring work.

Thank you for your continued patience during construction. Please contact the project hotline at 206-205-9186 with any questions or concerns.

As reported here recently, KCWTD told the Fauntleroy Community Association that the project will be done before the end of this year.

WATER SAFETY: Seattle Public Utilities says test results show NO lead problems, offers online tool for checking what your service line’s made of


(Screengrab from SPU mapping tool you can use to figure out what kind of “service line” goes to your residence)

3:55 PM: Just out of the WSB inbox:

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) said today that two days of extensive testing in five Seattle homes confirms the city’s water continues to be safe to drink.

The utility started testing after learning last week that Tacoma Public Utilities had detected high levels of lead in four water samples taken from galvanized steel service lines.

In response to that information, SPU asked Seattle residents to run their water before using it if the water had not been run for a while. SPU then initiated its own tests to see if the problems reported in Tacoma exist here.

The Seattle test results announced today are well below the action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). The highest level recorded in Seattle’s tests was 1.95 ppb.

Seattle’s water quality experts worked with five homeowners, distributed throughout the city, with galvanized-steel service lines. They sampled water from the main to the tap, after allowing the water to sit overnight in the pipes.

“This sampling protocol was much more extensive than the standard federal test, and should give customers an added sense of confidence in their water,” said SPU Drinking Water Quality Manager Wylie Harper.

“Seattle Public Utilities is in compliance with U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations,” said Derek Pell of the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) Office of Drinking Water. Pell added Seattle’s testing protocol is supported by DOH.

If customers are interested in learning what kind of material — copper, plastic or galvanized steel — the service line that supplies their homes with drinking water is made of, they can use a new online Web tool.

You can navigate to the Web tool by clicking here.

SPU said the test results released today mean Seattle water customers can return to using water as they did before Thursday’s announcement. (EPA, DOH and SPU recommend running the water before drinking.)

SPU’s source water, supplied to 1.3 million people in the region, comes from protected mountain watersheds in the Cascades Mountains and is considered to be some of the best water in the nation.

Seattle regularly tests its water for lead and other contaminants, and has met all requirements of the federal Lead and Copper Rule since 2003.

The utility’s state-of-the-art water quality laboratory analyzes over 20,000 microbiological samples each year — more than 50 a day taken throughout the system — and conducts chemical and physical monitoring daily, 365 days per year.

SPU continues to work with key stakeholders and regulators including DOH, Seattle-King County Public Health, EPA and city departments.

A phone line has been set up for customers with questions: 206-684-5800. Customers can call today until 7 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

9:01 PM UPDATE: As discovered and discussed by commenters, there are some spots on the map where you won’t find the water-line information. We asked SPU, whose Andy Ryan replied: “We know there are some ‘blanks’ in the database. Records were not always well kept or complete and some parts of the city were annexed. If your readers have questions — such as, ‘I can’t find information for my address’ — please ask them to call 684-5800, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

After Tacoma lead concerns, Seattle Public Utilities asks you to run your water for 2 minutes after 6-hour periods of non-use

(UPDATED 8:11 PM with link to information now posted on SPU website)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“We think our water’s safe. Having said that, we’re going to make sure there’s no cause for alarm.”

So said Andy Ryan from Seattle Public Utilities when we talked with him a short time ago about a new round of water testing and investigation that SPU has launched because of a situation in Tacoma involving lead.

The two cities’ water systems are NOT linked, but the situation that Tacoma uncovered MIGHT also be happening in a small part of Seattle’s service area, so SPU is advising a specific precaution: Until they find out for sure if the lead problem is happening anywhere here too, any time you have NOT run the water in your home or business for six hours, turn on a faucet and run it for two minutes before using it.

This is NOT just a West Seattle thing, and NOT related to the rust/sediment situation that led to the flushing that’s been happening here (just last night, we were out with the flushing crew and were starting to work on that update, when we found out about this and found ourselves writing this completely different water-system story instead).

What Tacoma has been doing, Ryan explained, is looking for galvanized-steel service pipes in their system that are connected to water mains with “a piece of lead pipe called a gooseneck.” He says Tacoma, Seattle, and many other cities have some of those goosenecks because their systems are so old. But they don’t know exactly where those goosenecks are – many are near older houses “built before good records were kept,” explained Ryan.

SPU DOES know where the galvanized lines connect to the water mains. There will soon be a map on the SPU website showing where those are – about 2,000 in Seattle, they believe. That will help them accelerate looking for the goosenecks. Ryan said there had already been an effort to replace them when crews found them, and they’ve been trying to find ways to step up the search. Tacoma, he explains, came up with a way to test water inside galvanized-pipe areas to look for heightened lead levels, and that’s what led to the current concerns, after a handful of samples came back. “As soon as we learned about this, we immediately started to figure out what that meant for our system,” Ryan told WSB. “Short answer is – we don’t know (yet).” So they’re launching the same kind of testing in the galvanized lines to see what turns up.

It should be noted, though, that Seattle Public Utilities has already been routinely testing its water for lead and other undesirable metals such as copper, “greatly exceed(ing) regulators’ standards.”

IMG_2265

We visited the lab (March photo above) for our recent story about “who’s watching your water?” related to the ongoing effort to reduce the incidences of “brown water” here. (And yet again, if you haven’t followed our coverage, “brown water” does NOT involve lead – it’s basically rust that’s stirred up in the cast-iron water mains, and even visible levels of it are not a health risk. Lead is basically invisible. It has not turned up in Seattle tests, Ryan says.)

Meantime, they’re hoping to get some samples back “really quickly” to see if what Tacoma found “is applicable here.” Since the locations of possible problems aren’t known yet, “we are asking everyone to just be extra cautious – run your water for two minutes if it’s been sitting in the pipe for more than six hours.” That’s being advised out of “an abundance of caution,” he stresses. “Prior to hearing back from Tacoma, we had not considered, nor had regulators considered, these galvanized pipes and gooseneck fittings to be an issue.” There are some differences between how Tacoma and Seattle run their systems, he notes, particularly the treatment methods, which could lead to a different level of corrosion in their pipes, in turn meaning that what’s detected there will NOT turn up here. But they have to find out.

So:

Until you hear otherwise from SPU, follow the “run the water for two minutes after it’s been in the pipes for six hours” advice TFN. Keep watch for a map on their website showing the “general areas of the 9,000 galvanized service lines, maybe four percent of all our service lines. 2,000 of those might have the gooseneck fittings.” (Those fittings used lead because it was more flexible and less likely to break, he explained.)

If you have questions – SPU already has a special phone number: 206-684-5800.

When the aforementioned map, and any other information, is online, we’ll link that here too.

BOTTOM LINE: For now, SPU is asking *everyone* to run their water for two minutes after six hours of non-use. (So, when you wake up, and when you get home from work, if your residence is empty during the day.) That will soon be narrowed down to the 9,000 or so customers who are connected to water mains via galvanized-steel piping. The lead goosenecks are only believed to be in use for a quarter of those connections, but that will be the most difficult thing for SPU to narrow down.

8:11 PM UPDATE: SPU’s website now has information, linked from its left sidebar, which points you to this page. No location information yet on where the city believes it has the galvanized piping that could be connected to the aforementioned lead-containing gooseneck fittings, but it promises, “More information about potentially impacted homes will be posted here soon.”

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