West Seattle, Washington
If you see extra equipment at the 63rd Avenue Pump Station in South Alki – King County Wastewater Treatment Division is bringing in a temporary generator truck after the station’s main electrical breaker failed. Spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says this is not related to ongoing upgrade work, but: “Unfortunately, the generator may be noisy to the near neighbors. The good news is that we will be able to minimize its use, because it will only be needed during storms and high flows, and it looks like drier weather is in the forecast starting Saturday.” Repairs could take up to two weeks, she adds. A flyer has been sent to neighbors, with this number for questions: 206-263-9453.
12:26 PM: Not that the weather is particularly conducive to a walk/ride around Alki Point, but we did want to remind you that the sidewalk is closed and road narrowed along Beach Drive west of 63rd SW, as King County Wastewater Treatment Division continues to work on emergency sewer-pipe repairs. We first reported on the problem Friday morning; the county is fixing a leak in the “42-inch pipeline that pumps wastewater from homes and businesses in West Seattle to King County’s West Point Treatment Plant in the Magnolia neighborhood.” Some wastewater spilled into Puget Sound, so avoid contact with the water in the area until the county’s tests show it’s safe.
We have messages out to get an update on how much longer the repair work is expected to last and will update when we hear back; the county has already said crews are likely to be back next week for restoration work, once the repairs themselves are done.
1:47 PM UPDATE: We just heard back from Monica Van der Vieren at KCWTD. She tells WSB:
The leak came from a joint where a gasket seal had failed. The crews unearthed the pipe, working in the landscaped planter box area, to repair the joint, and bury it in concrete. Crews are demobilizing now for the weekend. They will leave construction fencing and signage up over the weekend as the concrete cures, and restore the landscaped area next week (hopefully Monday if plants are available).
Water quality monitoring results are not yet back, so the warning signage will remain. King County’s Environmental Lab staff sampled again today. When Public Health receives two days of sample data at background levels, they will give the all-clear to remove the signs.
ORIGINAL 8:53 AM REPORT: County crews are working on what they describe as a “small sewer leak” near Alki Point and have posted warning signs in the area. Just in from the Wastewater Treatment Division:
King County utility crews are working quickly this morning to repair a sewer line leak near the 63rd Avenue Pump Station, which is located at 3535 Beach Drive SW.
The small leak was detected last night in a 42-inch pipeline that pumps wastewater from homes and businesses in West Seattle to King County’s West Point Treatment Plant in the Magnolia neighborhood.
An undetermined amount of wastewater overflowed out of the pipe and into Puget Sound. To protect public health and safety, crews quickly initiated cleanup and posted warning signs to keep people away from affected areas.
Construction workers will be on site this morning to repair the pipeline. King County reported the overflow to health and regulatory agencies and will monitor water quality over the next several days.
10:37 AM UPDATE: County staffers are distributing flyers in the area, and spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson also tells us they’re now closing the sidewalk, as well as one traffic lane – in an area that’s already relatively narrow. So they’re advising avoiding the area.
5:13 PM UPDATE: Work will continue tonight and tomorrow, the county says:
King County Wastewater Treatment Division crews have begun repairs to a sewer line where a failed seal caused a leak at the 63rd Avenue Pump Station on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 21.
Earlier today, crews excavated the pipeline, identified a repair method, and are now working to contain the leak and complete work as quickly as possible. Work is expected to be completed for the night at 10 p.m., and will resume at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23.
The area is cordoned off, and warning signs are posted to keep people at a safe distance from the work area during repair activities. King County employees are monitoring water quality, and will continue to do so until the problem is resolved and water quality returns to normal condition.
We will continue to provide updates as the work to repair this pipeline continues. Please contact us if you have questions.
What to expect:
· Work will continue until 10 p.m. tonight, and resume at 7 a.m. Saturday.
· Neighbors will experience noise, and construction lights will be on site.
· While repairs are expected to be completed Saturday, some work to restore the area may continue the week of January 25.
· Vactor trucks will be on site beginning Friday, January 22, 2016.
· Drivers should watch for traffic control devices – flaggers, signs and cones – and drive slowly through the area.
· Fencing, warning signs and tape will all be used at the site to keep people safe. Please avoid the area.
Seattle Public Utilities confirms there’s a water-line break in Fauntleroy. We checked with them after hearing from Danielle that she had lost water service near 44th and Barton and that water was in the street. SPU says a crew is making emergency repairs and they expect to have more information for us to add shortly.
10:21 AM: Our crew reports that 44th SW is closed south of Wildwood (Barton) while repairs are under way.
11:18 AM: From Ingrid Goodwin at SPU: “Water is off to about 28 homes to allow SPU crews to repair the broken 4-inch water main that runs ups 44th Ave SW to the dead end. Excavation has occurred and crews estimate that the repair will be done and water back on to customers by 3 pm today. The water was turned off about 9:45 am today.”
2:05 PM: SPU had hoped to get the repair finished earlier than expected, but then, Goodwin updates us: “Unfortunately, as crews were back filling the hole and preparing to leave the site, the water main sprung another leak. So crews are digging up the pipe again and have turned off the water. I will let you know when we expect to have the water back on, but it will likely be off through the remainder of the afternoon.”
3:05 PM: Update – SPU says they made the original 3 pm estimate after all.
As reported earlier, the 22nd/Andover sewer project ran hours later than planned this morning. We followed up with Seattle Public Utilities, whose spokesperson Rachel Garrett confirms more work is ahead tomorrow (Tuesday) morning:
· Work finished up this morning somewhat later than expected, however, residents were able to leave from 22nd Ave. SW and travel along the detour route via 21st Avenue and SW Oregon Street. We recognize that this created some additional traffic backups along the detour route.
· Paving work will take about two additional hours to complete. Crews plan to complete this work tomorrow, Tues., Jan. 12, between 7 and 10 a.m. Traffic will still be able to access 22nd Ave. SW, but residents who normally access the area via Andover will need to follow detour routes to SW Oregon Street (detour signage will be in place). Commuters should plan ahead for some additional traffic in the area.
Seattle Public Utilities crews are at 47th SW and Brace Point Drive right now, making emergency repairs after a water-line break. We contacted SPU and went to the scene for a look after two nearby residents contacted us wondering about a sudden drop in water pressure. The crew at the scene told us they hope to be done in half an hour or so. This could be affecting water pressure as far north as Willow and Fauntleroy, SPU says.
P.S. If you get discolored water because of, or after, this – here’s the SPU advice on that.
6:33 PM: We don’t know if these two events are related, but just in case one affects you, we’re mentioning them: Kevin asked via Twitter about a lack of water service near 36th/Edmunds, without notice. One reply came in from a 36th SW resident who said their building had been notified the water would be off 6-8 pm tonight “for repairs.” Meantime, we have heard via Twitter from someone near 35th/Charlestown that their water is discolored and Seattle Public Utilities told them it’s an emergency-repair situation.
7:13 PM: Though there was no original tweet about a “water-main break,” SDOT tweeted this a short time ago:
UPDATE: The water main break on 35th Ave SW at SW Avalon Way has been repaired. All lanes are open now.
— seattledot (@seattledot) December 10, 2015
UPDATE, 2:41 PM THURSDAY: Seems the shutoff and the “water-main break” were one and the same. From SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin:
SPU did not have any planned work yesterday near 35th and Avalon. However, there was a water main break yesterday afternoon near 4435 35TH AVE SW. As a result of this break, water was shut off for a couple of hours between about 6 pm and 8 pm to repair the pipe. Customers in the surrounding area experienced some discoloration in their water throughout the evening and night as a result of sediment being stirred up when the water was turned back on. Sometimes when working an emergency repair, our crews are able to verbally tell customers in advance when they will need to turn off the water. If they have time and crew resources to provide customers with a verbal warning that their water will be shut off soon, they will do so and will seek out businesses and multi-family buildings first as a courtesy.
4435 35th SW is the address of Luna, the mixed-use building under construction across from the stadium.
7:26 AM: At this early hour we’ve already received three texts from Admiral-area residents who woke up to brown water. So we’re publishing this quick note to let you know, it’s not just you. The first texter says Seattle Public Utilities told them it’s water-main-replacement work – we don’t yet know where. In the meantime, as noted during all our coverage of discolored water in recent months, do call SPU if it’s happening to you: 206-386-1800.
9:04 AM: One texter mentioned the 2200 block of California, so we went there to check, and found an SPU crew flushing a hydrant:
Shortly thereafter, Ingrid Goodwin from SPU answered our inquiry:
There was a planned water main shutdown this morning from 5 am to 8 am on California Avenue SW from SW Holgate to SW Walker Street. The work was to seal off a 2 inch water main. Customers impacted by the shutdown would have received a door hanger notification late last week from SPU’s water quality inspectors.
If customers are experiencing dirty water, they should run the cold water for a few minutes to see if it is clearing or still discolored. If the water does not clear, let the water sit for an hour. Then, run the water for a few minutes and flush the toilet a couple of times. If the water remains discolored, please contact SPU at 206-386-1800.
More information about discolored water can be found here.
12:30 PM: Commenters have been discussing continuing concerns; SPU says that while the work is complete, the water main was still being flushed, and a second hydrant was opened to help with that. Goodwin adds, “Flushing too quickly, however, can cause even more discoloration. So they are doing this work carefully. SPU thanks its customers for their patience as we work to clear the water as soon as possible.” We’re expecting another update soon.
The factors that led to water-discoloration trouble in West Seattle earlier this fall (September coverage here, October coverage here, November coverage here) aren’t factors any more – Myrtle Reservoir is back in service, and the city’s well field is no longer being tapped to make up for drought-related supply shortages. But this week, we’ve received scattered new reports of oddly colored water – from Genesee Hill to, tonight, Sunrise Heights. We had checked with Seattle Public Utilities earlier, after several reports here and there yesterday, and they reiterated that nothing operationally should be causing this – in the Genesee Hill area, maybe the aftermath of the water break earlier this week. Wherever you are, SPU reiterates, if you do see a water-color problem, please call them ASAP, at 206-386-1800.
5:41 PM: More than 40 homes are affected by a water-main break in West Seattle right now. Seattle Public Utilities says it’s on 52nd SW between Charlestown and Dakota [map]. They got first word around 4 pm that the 8-inch water main was broken, and a crew is working on it now; they don’t know yet how long repairs will take, nor do they know yet what caused the break. We’re headed out to check on other effects such as road closure(s). (added) Our archives confirm this area had water-line trouble this time last year, too.
10 PM: SPU says the water’s back on.
Multiple reports this morning of Comcast being out in Gatewood. They’re reporting the company hopes to have service back by 11 am.
Side note: Checking the city’s Office of Cable Communications page, we note it’s still taking comments on the proposed Comcast renewal through Monday.
The water-main repair work that’s closed 47th SW south of Fauntleroy – previously mentioned in our daily traffic watch – will take a few more hours, according to Seattle Public Utilities. Rachel Garrett at SPU tells WSB, “The break is affecting about 20 residential customers along 47th Ave. SW, between SW Brace Point and SW Roxbury Street. SPU crews are onsite and have begun repair work, which we estimate will be completed this afternoon by around 3 p.m. The water line is currently throttled, and customers along SW 47th Ave. upstream of the break will likely have service impacts while repairs are completed.” She says it’s an 8-inch line and they’re still investigating the cause of the break.
(SCROLL DOWN for updates … ROAD HAZARD? 206-386-1218 … POWER OUT? 206-684-3000)
(Added: WSB photo, wind-swept waves at Constellation Park)
FIRST POWER OUTAGE REPORT, 8:41 AM: Thanks to those who texted – the power’s out for more than 4,800 homes and businesses:
Seattle City Light‘s map says the cause is under investigation. While you’ll see “estimated restoration” times there, PLEASE remember that those are only guesstimates and almost always, the actual time is something completely different – could be much earlier or much later.
9:17 AM: About a third of those who lost power have it back – thanks to Tony in Seaview for first word on that.
9:20 AM: Our crew just stopped by Alki Elementary. Aside from the lack of electricity, it’s “business as usual,” and classes continue.
9:40 AM: City Light says a tree is to blame for the outage. Don’t know exactly where. Meantime, thanks for the texted photo of this tree down by Sanislo Elementary:
The texter says it’s *not* blocking the road. Sanislo DOES have power. Alki and Pathfinder remain the only schools that lost power, but district spokesperson Stacy Howard tells WSB that they have enough natural light to keep classes going.
9:52 AM: Photojournalist Erika Schultz says Pathfinder’s back on – it was a pocket outage all along, on Pigeon Point:
— Erika Schultz (@ErikaJSchultz) November 17, 2015
10:06 AM: Thanks for the texts and comments about more power restoration – Alki, Beach Drive, Genesee Hill. Waiting for City Light map to update. (1 minute later) Looks like everyone’s back on – if you’re NOT, please be sure to call SCL – 206-684-3000.
SECOND POWER OUTAGE, 10:17 AM: Almost immediately after that outage was resolved, a new one has hit – Puget Ridge, Riverside, points south, 2,100+ customers per City Light map:
10:25 AM: Just got a texted report of wires down on Beach Drive near Cormorant Cove Park (3700 block).
11:02 AM: Thanks for the updates – the SCL map verifies that the SECOND outage is now over, in less than an hour. That includes Sanislo. Again, if you are still without power somewhere, please call to be sure SCL knows – there might be pocket outages here and there.
11:26 AM: While the power’s back for all except a spot here and there (here’s the “live” map), the storm is still going full strength – we’ve just been down and around a few spots including Constellation Park south of Alki Point, adding photo (top).
11:57 AM: We’ll be launching an afternoon edition of storm coverage soon. Meantime, latest trouble spot we’ve heard about is south of West Seattle – trees down on the north lanes of 1st Avenue South near 116th, in Top Hat.
(WSB photo from Sunday)
Crews were in the vicinity again today investigating the cause of the sewer discharge in the right of way near Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street. They determined that the overflow was caused by two maintenance-hole covers that were not watertight. We are exploring ways of sealing the holes to prevent future overflows at the location.
Crews also found that the new Delridge combined-sewer-overflow (CSO) project construction is working as designed.
By Sunday evening (11/15), crews responded to and contained the sewage overflow. They removed warning signs once the area had been cleared, and the road was reopened to traffic. We will let you know when we have figured out how, and when, we seal the maintenance holes that caused the overflow.
2:23 AM: Some West Seattleites saw one or more flashes and heard booms about the time more than 4,300 homes and businesses lost power south of here – parts of White Center, Shorewood, Boulevard Park, also a pocket of the southeastern edge of WS at Olson/Myers. We’re covering it on partner site White Center Now but thought we’d mention it here too, because of the sights and sounds. No official word on the cause yet but Seattle City Light says crews are headed toward its Duwamish Substation.
3:39 PM: Most have been back on for some time but City Light spokesperson Scott Thomsen says about 10 percent of those originally affected remain out – he also updated us on the cause: “A tree fell into wires, which caused a fault current that was big enough that it damaged some of the wire. So crews have been working to replace the damaged wire. There are about 450 customers still out. We estimate having them back in service around 4:15 pm.”
Going back to September, we’ve been reporting on sporadic problems with discolored water around West Seattle. Usually, such problems are localized to a specific neighborhood that can trace them to a specific incident – water-line break, fire-hydrant use, etc. But in this case, the problems have been geographically scattered, and in most cases, Seattle Public Utilities says, related to two things: Routing changes in the water system while the Myrtle Reservoir was out of service for earthquake-resistance work, and activation of a wellfield to supplement supply during the recent dry months. Tonight, two weeks after the most-recent update, Ingrid Goodwin at SPU tells us neither of those situations is a factor any more:
Seattle’s water supply conditions have improved, which enabled SPU to completely turn off the wells on November 10. The wells may have been a secondary cause of the discoloration problems that residents were experiencing. Customers should expect that it will take a few weeks for the well water to circulate out of the system.
Myrtle Reservoir has been back in service since October 30 and water configuration operations have returned to normal.
SPU will continue to monitor the system and modify operations as needed to minimize stirring up sediment that can lead to temporary discoloration.
From November 3 through November 13, SPU received 39 customer calls indicating yellow, brown, or rust colored water in the general West Seattle and Georgetown/SODO area. We expect the number of customer calls to go down now that operations are returning to normal.
If you do see this problem at your residence, here’s the number SPU’s been asking customers to call: 206-386-1800.
The region’s water supply is now almost back to normal. So the request for you has changed to “don’t waste water.” Here’s the latest, from Seattle Public Utilities and its regional counterparts:
Recent rains have improved our region’s water supply. Now cautiously optimistic about water supply conditions, Everett, Seattle and Tacoma are moving to the lowest stage of their Water Shortage Response Plans, the advisory stage.
Conditions no longer warrant being in the “voluntary” stage, in which customers were asked to reduce water use by 10 percent. The advisory stage means that a potential water supply problem may exist. This is still the case due to an ongoing strong El Nino that is expected to bring warm weather through the spring. While in the advisory stage, the cities ask customers to use water wisely by not wasting it.
The three cities thank their customers for helping the region stretch its water supplies to meet the needs of people and fish in this unprecedented year. … “We live in a region where our customers truly understand and value drinking water as a precious resource,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “When we asked them to partner with us by reducing their water use, they stepped up and responded. I want to personally thank the residents and businesses of Seattle for doing their part.”
… With rain from the Halloween storm, supply reservoirs on the Cedar and South Fork Tolt rivers rose 12 and 14 feet, respectively, and are now at 92 percent of normal for this time of year. The utility continues to provide beneficial flows for spawning salmon in both the Cedar and South Fork Tolt rivers.
The full regional update, and water-saving advice, can be found at savingwater.org.
If you’ve noticed work on, and just off, Beach Drive just south of Constellation Park – here’s what’s going on. From the King County Wastewater Treatment District:
Construction has begun across the street from King County’s 63rd Avenue Pump Station. The pump station is located on the waterfront at the intersection of Beach Dr. Southwest, Southwest Spokane Street, and 63rd Ave. Southwest, in West Seattle.
The work will include upgrading the existing connections from three private homes to the county’s pipeline.
What to expect:
· The sidewalks in front of the three homes will not be passable while the work is ongoing.
· There should only be minimal impact to traffic.
· All work will be done from 8:00am to 5:00pm M-F.
· The work is expected to take up to 2 weeks.
(WSB photo: City Light truck on Highland Park Way during Sunday night’s outage)
The question came up again after Sunday night’s 2,100+-customer power outage from Puget Ridge to White Center: Since the line along the Highland Park Way hill seems to be particularly vulnerable, wouldn’t it make sense to put that line underground? We took the question to Seattle City Light.
Short answer: No.
Long answer, via SCL spokesperson Connie McDougall:
I’m told that the utility is aware of that area’s outages, and of course regrets the inconvenience, but City Light does not consider an underground system to be a viable solution for that area.
As one person told me, these kinds of projects are not only enormously expensive, but also very complex. Some folks might think it’s just a matter of digging a trench and then installing power lines but it’s not that simple. There’s a lot to consider.
Part of it is environmental. Crews would have to remove hundreds of healthy trees in the greenbelt area to make way for such a system, which in turn would damage roots of nearby trees. Also, by mayoral executive order, when crews remove one tree, they must replace with two suitable trees. Just making room for that scope of planting would mean thinning out hundreds of additional trees, adding to the cost to say nothing of aesthetic issues. Also, there are protected wetlands in the area, which further complicates it.
The other reason City Light would not consider an underground system viable for that area is our commitment to cost effectiveness. Even if you could somehow overcome all of the environmental issues, this would be a multi-million dollar job, using funds the utility simply does not have. Like everyone else, City Light has to stick to a budget and must make decisions and choices that are fiscally responsible.
To reduce tree-related outages, City Light’s vegetation management folks did trim the trees immediately around the wires in that area in May of this year. They trim about 10-feet around the powerlines, perhaps a few feet more depending on the situation. They try not to cut any more than is necessary for both practical and aesthetic reasons. The tree that caused your recent outage last weekend was not in that trim zone, but had a large reach, so when it went down, it went into the lines. This is just the nature of a greenbelt. And again, for practical and aesthetic reason, crews never trim trees deep into an area, but only around the wires.
This may not be any consolation, but you may also want to tell readers that when there’s an outage underground, it takes much longer to find it and repair it. Crews literally have to look into all the vaults in the area until they find the one with the problem. Overhead outages are a lot easier to find and repair, so customers get their power back sooner.
In newer construction of course, developers and contractors can plan for underground systems and build it into the cost and scope of the project.
Other tree-linked outages traced to that stretch include last August and March 2014; in November 2013, a car-vs.-pole crash there caused an outage with the same basic footprint. Those are just the ones we found easily in our archive, which also includes the signature sign of the 2006 Hanukkah Eve windstorm aftermath,
6:50 PM: 6:50 PM: Thanks for the texted tip – more than 2,100 Seattle City Light customers are out in eastern West Seattle, from Puget Ridge southward, as well as South Park and parts of unincorporated North Highline.
6:57 PM: 911 log says wires are down at Highland Park Way and Othello, which could indicate that’s the epicenter of the outage. We’re off to check. Meantime, at right, we’ve added a screen grab of the outage one according to the City Light map (which is linked in the first paragraph above). Some areas flickered about the time this outage hit, but did not lose power (ours, east of south Lincoln Park, among them).
7:04 PM: City Light says a tree is likely to blame:
Outage in West Seattle affecting about 2,100 people. Sounds like a tree down near SW Othello and Highland Park. Crews on the way
— Seattle City Light (@SEACityLight) November 2, 2015
Texters are also telling us that signals are out in some of the outage zones – remember, that means, treat the intersection like a 4-way stop. (And if you have any other info to share – text 206-293-6302 – thanks!)
7:26 PM UPDATE: As Kelly points out in comments, some already have it back – outage now down to 600+ homes/businesses.
We just checked out the Highland Park Way hill, and City Light crews are working quickly – one tree is visible in pieces off the road on the uphill (south/westbound) side, and the crew has moved further up the hill.
7:59 PM: Everyone else just got theirs back, per commenters and the SCL map.
More than a month after our first reports about discolored water at different points around West Seattle, it’s still being reported here and there, so we have an update this afternoon from Seattle Public Utilities.
(WSB September photo, Myrtle Reservoir)
First, regarding Myrtle Reservoir, considered indirectly to blame because it had been emptied for earthquake-resistance upgrades, and that led to some rerouting in the Seattle Public Utilities System, which was suspected of “stirring up sediment that can lead to temporary discoloration,” according to SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin, who tells WSB today, “Myrtle Reservoir has been cleaned, disinfected and refilled with water. We are now waiting on the results of the water quality samples taken from the reservoir yesterday. Assuming the samples come back satisfactory, the reservoir will be back in service tomorrow (10/30). Bringing Myrtle back on line may help solve the problem of discolored water for some customers. But we’ll know more after the reservoir has been back in operation for a few weeks.”
In our most-recent update, SPU also had confirmed that because of the drought, it’s been drawing water from its well field north of Sea-Tac Airport, a different water source from the Cedar River Watershed. Overall, Goodwin continues: “Regular bacteriological samples in the area continue to come back satisfactory – indicating that the water remains safe to drink. Since the end of September, we have been taking water quality samples and analyzing for metals, pH, chlorine, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature and color at the wells and at eight additional sites in West Seattle and Georgetown. Results from this supplemental water quality sampling in West Seattle continue to show the water is safe and meets drinking water standards.” (Those wells will be turned off “when Seattle’s water supply conditions return to normal,” but that doesn’t seem close yet.)
So what to do if you get odd-colored water? SPU says 39 customers reported it from October 20th to 27th “in the general West Seattle and Georgetown/SODO area.” Here’s what to do if it happens: “We encourage customers to continue to report problems with their drinking water to SPU by calling the 24/7 Operations Response Center at 206-386-1800. Reporting the problem as soon as it is noticed helps our water quality inspectors in their investigation to pinpoint the cause.” Goodwin also reiterates that discolored water has other causes, including when the fire department operates hydrants (this may have been the case with the recent fires in W. Seattle) or contractors open hydrants on construction projects. Leaks and breaks in water lines can also cause temporary discolored water.”
A tree-vs.-power-line situation has led to Seattle Police and City Light blocking off SW Orchard north of Dumar (map) until crews can get there to take care of the problem. They’re not sure how long that’ll take – could be a few hours. No crash involved, just a spontaneous problem, but we recall from past storms that this can be a trouble spot during wind and rain, so damage might have lingered.