Utilities 616 results

West Seattle power outage: 92 customers in Upper Alki

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.

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Murray CSO project to add Sunday work

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


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


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

(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:

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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.”


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.


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.”

FLUSH UPDATE: Night 3 tonight as Seattle Public Utilities works to clear WS water

(WSB photo from Sunday, California/Spokane)

We checked in today with Seattle Public Utilities, whose crews are getting ready for Night 3 of a months-long process to flush rust/sediment out of the West Seattle water system, to reduce the recurring brown-water problems that have hit various parts of our area since last fall.

So far, SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin tells WSB, “The crews are still working out the flushing process and have been making some field adjustments to achieve the results we need. So far they have completed four flushes (2 Sunday and 2 Monday). We were hoping to complete 3 to 4 flushes per night, but we’ve run into some problems with operating some of the older valves.”

Tonight, she says they’re expected to be at three locations: 44th/Lander, 45th/Stevens, and, for some “pre-flushing” work, 44th/Spokane. Remember that – as was apparently the case Sunday night – the flushing itself can lead to temporarily discolored water as that water heads out of the system; if at any time you have a problem that persists, notify SPU at 206-386-1800.

BACKSTORY: The plan to flush West Seattle’s pipes this spring/summer was announced three weeks ago. Then on April 8th, SPU shared the map of the first area to be flushed, along with other details. On Sunday, just as the flushing was about to start, we took a closer look at the water-system workings, in part a followup to our March 22nd report on how SPU monitors and tests local drinking water – for “flavor” as well as safety.

West Seattle power outage: Pathfinder K-8 without electricity

11:32 AM: Thanks for the tips – parents of students at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point mentioned getting e-mail from the school that the power’s out, and a few other people have mentioned losing power for a short time in other areas of east West Seattle (Highland Park, Westwood). Seattle City Light‘s outage map is itself out right now so we can’t use that for a reference. Seattle Public Schools confirms Pathfinder is out; City Light is checking for us to see if anyone else is and what’s going on.

12:21 PM: Scott Thomsen from SCL says, “It was a momentary interruption of two feeder lines caused by a tree making contact with the wires.”

Before the big flush: What you might not know about where your water’s from, and not from


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

That big tank on SW Barton, about halfway between Westwood Village and the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock – officially known as the Barton Standpipe – is empty and decommissioned.

We didn’t know that until our recent visit to Seattle Public Utilities‘ Operations Control Center in SODO:

IMG_2744 (1)

At the heart of that visit was a preview of the big flushing operation that SPU is about to start in West Seattle in hopes of lessening the recurring brown-water problems we’ve been covering since last fall. (Even today, we’ve received scattered reports of discoloration – no word on the cause this time.) We published our first flush preview on March 31st, and then followed up on April 8th with the first look at what was being mailed out to local homes.

Now, months of targeted flushing is about to begin in the area shown on this map:

W Seattle Flush Map Apr 8_FINAL

SPU was planning to start with test flushes late tonight at California/Spokane and 49th/Spokane (11:34 pm update: they’re under way, as shown in our quick added video clip).

They’ll be working out the process for a night or two. So we’re taking the opportunity to report the rest of the story behind how SPU gets water to you.

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Murray Combined Sewer Overflow project by Lowman Beach will be done by year’s end, Fauntleroy Community Association told

First of two reports from tonight’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting, which wrapped up this past hour at the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse:

(Photo courtesy King County Wastewater Treatment Division)

King County Wastewater Treatment Division reps assured FCA that the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project will be done by the end of the year – the county, in fact, they insisted, is “highly motivated” to finish it by then. The facility itself, a million-gallon tank meant to keep most combined-sewer overflow from spilling into Puget Sound, should be operational by early October. That isn’t the end of the project – next fall and winter will bring restoration of Lowman Beach Park, where an underground pump station is undergoing upgrades and where construction trailers and some other project support has been staged; a ribbon-cutting and celebration is expected to happen next spring.

In the far more immediate future, 6,000 homes in the area are about to get a mailer with the final timeline, and you’re invited to an “information session” at the site two weeks from tonight, Tuesday, April 26th, 5 pm-7 pm.

BACKSTORY: After five-plus years of talking and planning, construction began more than 2 1/2 years ago with demolition of the block of residential buildings that had been on what’s now the tank site. When operational, it’s expected to reduce the number of Puget Sound-polluting overflows – which typically happen during major storms – from an average of five a year, to one.

Here’s who gets flushed first in West Seattle brown-water battle

One week after we first reported that Seattle Public Utilities plans a huge flushing operation intended to lessen the recurring brown-water problems, SPU has settled on where and when it will begin. Word is going out in postal mail today, with a map, announcement, and FAQ. SPU plans to start the flushing the week of April 18th in this area:

W Seattle Flush Map Apr 8_FINAL

That entire area will not be flushed on the same day – it’ll be different neighborhoods on different days (more like, nights) from April through June. Here’s the text of the letter that will accompany the map:

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will begin flushing water mains in West Seattle starting the week of April 18, 2016. The map on the back of this page shows the area in purple that will be flushed first (from April through June). Eventually more water mains throughout West Seattle neighborhoods will be flushed, which will take several months to complete.

SPU is performing this major water-main flush to help maintain water quality and reduce the uptick in discolored water that some West Seattle customers have been experiencing since last summer. Flushing won’t eliminate discolored water, but it will help decrease it.

What do customers need to do? Residents and businesses do not need to take any action to prepare for this work. Customers will be able to use their water as usual. When crews are flushing nearby, customers may notice a slight reduction in their water pressure. They may also see temporary discolored water, which should clear quickly once crews are done flushing the water main. Running the cold water for a few minutes can also help clear the discoloration.

Why does discolored water occur? Discolored water can happen when crews operate a fire hydrant, when there is a water main break or leak, or when the water in the pipes is forced to travel in a different direction than normal. When one of these events happens, naturally occurring sediment in the water and rust in the pipes get stirred up, causing the water to look discolored.

Flushing the water mains will remove some of the sediment and rust that has been resting in the pipes. This will help reduce the level of discoloration and the time it takes for the water to clear when there’s a disturbance in the pipes.

Is the water safe? Yes. Every single day, SPU takes samples throughout the system of the drinking water that it provides to 1.4 million people. The water is tested for contaminants and is regulated by the Washington State Department of Health. Seattle’s water remains safe to drink.

Questions or concerns: If you have any questions or concerns about the flushing process or discolored water, please read through the “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet that is enclosed with this mailing. If you experience any problems with your water, contact SPU’s 24-hour emergency line at 206-386-1800.

We thank you for your patience and understanding while SPU strives to continue to provide some of our nation’s best drinking water.

Also being mailed with the map and letter, a two-page list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers – read them here. And in the meantime, if you get discolored water, wherever you are, whenever it happens, SPU wants to hear from you at that same number, above, the one we’ve been publishing in brown-water coverage since last fall.

FOLLOWUP: What caused last night’s brown water in Delridge and Admiral

After a flurry of discolored-water reports started flowing in last night after 9 pm, we promised to follow up today with Seattle Public Utilities. The response is just in from spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin:

SPU crews conducted two hydrant flow tests last night in West Seattle: one in the vicinity of 48th Ave. SW and Waite St, and the other one on Delridge Way. The hydrant tests are a mandated requirement by the City of Seattle for new construction projects.

As you know, any time there is a disturbance in the water main, discolored water can happen. Last night’s hydrant tests caused discolored water for some customers in those areas where the tests took place. Since last night, SPU has received about 50 calls from customers in West Seattle related to discolored water.

SPU does not typically notify customers in advance about routine, day-to-day maintenance work that crews complete quickly and has a low impact or no impact on customers. However, we understand that many West Seattle residents are acutely aware of discolored water, have been experiencing persistent problems since last summer and want to be informed when SPU knows there might be a disturbance in the water system. SPU needs to do a better job communicating in advance to customers when we know there is planned, day-to-day work by SPU crews that can cause discolored water. We are working on developing and implementing a method to do so soon.

The unidirectional flushing that is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks will not eliminate discolored water, but will help reduce the intensity and duration of discolored water when it does occur. SPU will be sending customers information explaining the work, an FAQ that will answer some questions and a map that shows the areas that will be flushed. Customers, who live in West Seattle neighborhoods where the flushing will start in April, should look for a mailing from SPU to arrive next week.

We had first word of the “unidirectional flushing” plan in this story last Thursday.

BROWN WATER: Reports from Admiral, Delridge

10:32 PM: Suddenly in the past half-hour or so, we’re getting reports of brown water in at least two areas of West Seattle, North Admiral and North Delridge. No, it’s NOT the “West Seattle flush” we first told you about last week – that’s not supposed to get going before mid-month. If you’re seeing brown water, tonight or any other time, please call Seattle Public Utilities‘ 24-hour hotline, 206-386-1800. (So far, one North Delridge resident said she was told it’s a hydrant flush; the North Admiral situation seems to be a mystery. But please call if you’re seeing it – that’ll help them sleuth.)

TUESDAY, 9:20 AM: We’re still hearing from people experiencing this; we’re checking with SPU but that’s no substitute for you calling them directly if it’s happening at your house and you haven’t called already. From our recent visits to and reports about SPU’s system, we can tell you the “sediment” to which they refer is basically rust from the old cast-iron water mains that constitute much of the system in this area (among others), not unhealthy but certainly unappetizing, and the upcoming flushing operations are aimed at getting some of it out of the system so that changes in routine such as hydrant operations or leaks/breaks don’t have as much of it to stir up.

Attack plan for brown water: Seattle Public Utilities plans large-scale West Seattle flush

(Reader photo from a brown-water situation earlier this month)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

After months of intermittent but intense West Seattle brown-water incidents that we’ve been covering – going back to last fall – the city is making plans for a major operation to try to attack the underlying problem: Rust in the pipes.

The rust isn’t unusual and isn’t unhealthy, Seattle Public Utilities stresses – but there shouldn’t be this much of it stirred up when something happens such as a hydrant opening or pipe break, and it should clear faster (as commenters have pointed out, it often lingers longer than they were told it would).

So SPU is planning a “unidirectional flush” – something that utility managers say hasn’t been done anywhere in the city in more than a decade.

It’s not one big operation at one time but will play out over the course of months. We got an early briefing during a visit to the SPU Operations Control Center, following up on our recent behind-the-scenes look at how water safety and quality is monitored.

We met there with drinking water quality director Wylie Harper and other SPU water managers, including operations director Dave Muto. First, some context. Two-thirds of the 1,800 miles of pipeline in SPU territory is unlined cast iron – and this is the primary source of what discolors the water in certain circumstances:

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