6:32 PM: More than 50 homes/businesses in pockets along Roxbury, between 35th and 20th, are without power, but Seattle City Light crews tell us it shouldn’t last much longer. It’s affecting signals, though, including 30th/Roxbury, so be careful and treat any nonworking signal intersection as a four-way stop. The cause is listed as “equipment failure,” apparently in a vault.
7 PM: The map suggests the easternmost pockets have been restored.
Three months after we first reported on seismic-safety retrofit work needed inside some city reservoirs, it’s about to start at West Seattle Reservoir in Highland Park. Neighbors will receive, if they haven’t already, notices from Seattle Public Utilities, which tells WSB that work will start by the end of September and run through March. Here’s the notice:
(If you can’t see the embedded version, here’s the PDF version.) SPU says project signs will go up in the park before work begins. Our June story, linked in the first sentence of this one, details the full backstory, including the expectation that work will be needed at West Seattle’s other underground reservoir, Myrtle, and will probably start there before the end of next year.
(2010 WSB photo)
In addition to the meetings and events highlighted earlier in our West Seattle Tuesday preview, we just got word of this from Mike (thank you!) – relating to the area in the photo above, from WSB storm coverage in December 2010:
Learn about drainage in your neighborhood.
Tuesday, Sept. 9th at 6 PM
Meet at corner of 30th Ave SW and SW 104th, on west side of Seola Pond.
Seattle Public Utilities has made commitments to improve drainage in the Arbor Heights area near Seola Pond.
Debbie Harris is project manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
The City Council is considering a change to the recycling rules – instead of just enabling food-waste recycling, they’re looking at requiring it. The next discussion of this proposal is on the agenda for the Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee meeting this afternoon at City Hall at 2 pm (here’s the agenda). The slide-deck presentation accompanying the agenda item (see it here or above) says the city will take too long to get to its recycling goal of 60 percent of all waste, without a requirement like this, because food waste and compostable (but not otherwise recyclable) paper are “the largest component of readily divertible material” in what both residences and businesses throw away. If the proposal is finalized by the council, the new rules would start next year, with warnings at first, and then in July, a residential violation would cost you $1, a dumpster violation $50 after 2 warnings.
That quick video clip’s all about something Puget Sound Energy is sending out to more than a million customers via postal mail (in this case, e-mail just wouldn’t work), as explained in this announcement:
Billing statements from Puget Sound Energy arriving in mailboxes over the coming weeks might smell a little rotten.
A newly designed natural gas safety brochure is being sent out to more than 1.1 million PSE customers throughout September. In addition to lots of important information about what to do if there’s a suspected gas leak, there’s a scratch-and-sniff section that’s a reminder of the rotten egg odor associated with natural gas.
To help detect gas leaks more easily, PSE and other natural gas utilities add an odorant called mercaptan to the natural gas, which is naturally odorless and colorless. Everyone in a family needs to recognize the stench, and know what to do if they smell it:
Update: Crash blamed for power outage south of West Seattle; SPD says they had tried to pull over car after ‘narcotics sale’August 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news, White Center | 57 Comments
(UPDATED THURSDAY MORNING with crash update from SPD, which investigated)
(Added photo, by Nate: Top center, sideways power pole caught in wires)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:54 PM: Getting outage reports from some of the areas hit early this morning. Checking with City Light. We’ve heard from Shorewood so far – if you’re elsewhere and without power, please let us know, since the utility’s official mapping tends to lag.
9:07 PM: Checking out a report that this might be related to a crash on 116th SW in White Center.
(Added photo, by Andrew Kliphardt)
9:31 PM: We’re at the crash scene now, on 116th SW in White Center, near 10th.
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
King County Sheriff’s deputies have several blocks of 116th shut down. While City Light’s map isn’t updating, its customer hotline is apparently saying 4,200 customers are out of power – about the same as this morning’s outage (which was caused by a “failed insulator”). If you have to drive through this area, note that lights are out on part of the 16th SW/Ambaum arterial – 16th/107th is on but then power is out again south of there – treat any nonfunctioning signal as a four-way stop.
9:52 PM: City Light’s map now shows the full outage – we’re adding a screengrab above. At the crash scene, we learned that two people were hurt and taken to Harborview. With a pole and wires taken out, it was too dangerous to get close.
(Photo courtesy Tim Clemans)
10:06 PM: City Light says via Twitter that crews are routing power around the crash scene and that “most should be back on within the hour.”
10:10 PM: … or sooner; one text just came in from someone who has it back, and commenters are reporting they do too.
11:15 PM: Still about 1,200 out of power, mostly in White Center, according to the SCL map.
11:29 PM: Seattle Police are involved in the investigation; we don’t have official information yet on why. The Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is on scene. Commenters say the crashed car flipped in the back yard of a home – Andrew Kliphardt sent this photo:
2:11 AM: Still 1200+ without power.
(Added photo, by Andrew Kliphardt)
9:24 AM: The rest of the area got its power back overnight. Meantime, KCSO confirmed that Seattle Police investigated the crash. Here’s what SPD spokesperson Drew Fowler tells WSB:
SPD narcotics and ACT officers were conducting an operation just south of Seattle when they attempted to stop a vehicle involved in a narcotics sale. The vehicle refused to stop and left at a high rate of speed. Consistent with policy, our officers terminated and did not pursue. However, the suspect vehicle continued at a high rate of speed and collided with a power pole causing the loss of power to numerous homes in the White Center/Burien area. SPD’s TCIS investigated the incident and the two suspects were taken to HMC with non-life threatening injuries.
ACT = Anti-Crime Team; TCIS = Traffic Collision Investigation Squad.
9:57 AM: We also asked SCL about the coinciding patterns between the outage caused by this crash and the one about 20 hours earlier. Spokesperson Scott Thomsen: “Unfortunately, the power lines attached to that pole are the same feeder line that was affected by the insulator failure the day before.”
(Screengrab from Seattle City Light map)
12:40 AM: First reports of a power outage came from 25th/107th area, shortly after major rain started to fall – and now the Seattle City Light outage map shows more than 4,200 homes/businesses are out of power, from the south end of West Seattle south and southeastward. So far, no cause listed – just that SCL is “investigating” – but the start came around the time a downpour began, and at least one tipster reports big lightning accompanied it.
1:26 AM: City Light says it’s restored power to about a third of the homes/businesses affected, but that still leaves about 2,600 without electricity.
1:57 AM: Down to fewer than 1,000.
6 AM: Still almost 600 customers out, in the South Park area per the SCL map.
3:09 PM UPDATE: Everybody was back as of earlier today. City Light’s Scott Thomsen tells WSB a “failed insulator” caused it.
City Light says 10 homes are still out of power northeast of The Junction as part of an earlier outage that at one point was reported to be up to 90. According to a photo texted to us, this was another case of crow vs. transformer, with the bird making deadly contact at 38th/Dakota. The current estimate for repair completion is around 12:30 pm.
Though King County says the timeline’s not set yet, it’s circulating an alert about work that will dig up a section of road south of Alki Point soon. The alert begins:
Beginning later this month, a contractor working for King County will be making repairs to the County’s Alki Regulator Gate. This below-ground structure is located in Southwest Spokane St., near the corner of Beach Dr. Southwest. (see attached map). This facility is part of the County’s regional wastewater system; it helps to regulate wastewater flows going to the County’s West Seattle tunnel and pump station. These repairs are important to help avoid wastewater overflows into Puget Sound during times of high wastewater flows in the system.
See the full alert here (PDF, including a map). It says the work will last up to two weeks, with traffic-flagging for the duration, and that other projects are ahead, including improvements to the pump station in the area and installation of a “flow meter” near Spokane/62nd.
9:13 AM: Thanks to Steve for the tip about a Comcast outage in Admiral. According to a tweet from @ComcastWA, it’s because of a “fiber cut” and should be fixed within an hour or so … let us know if that window passes and you’re still out.
9:43 AM UPDATE: Steve says the service is back up.
At least for this area, it’s a new spin on the recurring telephone scam in which someone calls a business and claims its electricity is about to be cut off unless it makes a payment right now. Over the weekend, Donna Burns from Giannoni’s Pizzeria in Westwood Village – which had received the power-bill-scam call at least twice – reported a caller, claiming to be with Puget Sound Energy, making demands: “After I received the ‘we’re turning off your gas in 30 minutes if you don’t pay $500′ call, I immediately called PSE myself (their emergency number) and confirmed that it was in fact, a fraudulent call.” She was due to follow up with the Seattle Police fraud unit today. Bottom line is that if anyone calls you – business or personal line – claiming you need to make a payment now or face disconnection, DON’T DO IT – even if you are worried you might have bonafide bill trouble, hang up and contact the utility directly yourself to find out your status. (Searching the Web before publishing this, we see reports of this in some other parts of PSE’s service territory, but it doesn’t seem to have been as widely reported in Seattle as the electric-bill scam.)
(Project site aerial photo by Long B. Nguyen)
Work is scheduled this Saturday (July 12th) at the sewer-overflow-control project across from Lowman Beach, where King County is building a million-gallon underground storage tank to reduce overflows from the nearby Murray Pump Station. The county sent special notice of this today since it’s outside the bounds of the usual work; the notice says the work will be done between 9 am and 5 pm Saturday, and: “Nearly all the work will be completed with hand tools. No drilling, pumping or other construction activities will occur. Some materials may be moved around the site with a forklift.”
The notice described the work as “repairs” so we followed up to ask what was broken; project spokesperson Doug Marsano replied that it is “general maintenance work on the drill equipment used to install the outer ring of the tank. Some of the project’s support equipment may also be maintained in order to prevent breakdowns. Doing the maintenance on Saturday when the equipment isn’t being used helps keep the project on schedule.” And so far, he said, it is “going well and is on schedule.” That schedule calls for completion in 2016.
Power was out in the Seaview Addition from roughly 6 pm – 7:30 pm, on July 5th. A crow hit a transformer, and was killed. Immediately, a couple dozen crows set up in the heavily wooded lot across the alley, and made a raucus cawing dirge. There were several crows still cawing when City Light showed up an hour later. They indicated they were familiar with this crow behavior. They soon had the power restored, with a bird shield over the transformer. Only a few homes were affected by the outage.
This is the third outage of this type in the past week or so.
Charissa e-mailed with word of a power outage in the 48th/Edmunds area that she says started when a “transformer blew” around 9:30 am. The City Light site says 11 households are affected and they’re hoping to have the power back within a few hours. It’s notable because this is at least the second time this week that area’s had a small (double-digit or fewer customers) outage. The cause is listed, however, as still officially being “investigated.”
10:44 AM: Charissa says the power’s back on: “It was a crow pecking at a live wire attached to the transformer. Seattle City Light guy said happens all the time. they electrocute themselves. very sad. City Light puts a piece of plastic down to help prevent it from happening again.” So often, that’s what the small outages turn out to be.
(Outage zone, screengrabbed from City Light map)
12:29 AM: Thanks to Kevin and Jason for initial tips (email@example.com) – the City Light outage map now confirms an outage in Arbor Heights and Brace Point. They both reported an explosion-type sound preceding the power problem (for Jason, it’s out; for Kevin, it flickered). City Light says 134 households are affected and estimates restoration by 3 am (remember, it’s always more of a “guesstimate” at this point).
1:29 AM: The map now blames the outage on “tree” and estimates power back by 9 am.
9 AM NOTE: Jason says in comments that the power returned around 4:45.
Why 4-year-old West Seattle Reservoir needs a multimillion-dollar retrofit – and Myrtle Reservoir is expected to, tooJune 18, 2014 at 11:18 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 29 Comments
(SPU photo inside West Seattle Reservoir in May 2010, not long before it was filled)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Only four years after it went into service, the underground West Seattle Reservoir in Highland Park needs a $7.6 million earthquake-resistance retrofit.
Work will start this summer, while the city and its consultants determine the scope of retrofitting that is also expected for our area’s other underground water facility, Myrtle Reservoir in Gatewood, as well as for two others in the city, Beacon and Maple Leaf.
We talked today with Seattle Public Utilities and its consultants about the problem, the solution, and the work ahead.
This was foreshadowed a year and a half ago; we made note of it here in November 2012, following up after The Seattle Times (WSB partner) broke the news that the reservoirs’ designer, MWH, had told the city about what SPU calls “possible seismic deficiencies in their work.” SPU subsequently announced that testing would be done to find out about those potential deficiencies and what would be needed to remedy them.
They didn’t expect the testing would take as long as it did. West Seattle Reservoir is the first one for which a seismic review has been finished and a retrofit plan laid out.
7:41 PM: 54 customers (households, since it’s in a residential area) in Gatewood are out of power right now, according to the Seattle City Light outage map (screengrab above). It’s currently estimating restoration around 10:30 tonight, but take note, that’s usually more guesstimate than estimate. The map lists “bird/animal” as the cause.
1:23 AM: City Light’s map shows the outage is over.
Don’t be fooled if you get a call from someone claiming to be from Seattle City Light and that you need to pay money NOW to avoid power-service disconnection. Last November, we wrote about this scam hitting local businesses. And tonight, West Seattle’s Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) says somebody just tried it on them today – they weren’t fooled.
A guy calling himself James from Seattle City Light called the Feedback and got our manager. “James” said we were due to be disconnected for non-payment. He said there was a technician in the area and would arrive within about 30 minutes so we needed to act quickly. He wanted her to go to Rite Aid and get a Money Pack for $260 then call back (to a different number than he was calling on) to process the payment. Fortunately (the manager) was sharp enough to call me and we determined it was a scam. Here were the clues:
*We had just paid our bill and had reference numbers to prove it. James said the payments didn’t show on our account. When I asked what account number he was looking at, he wouldn’t tell me.
*James called from a number that didn’t have a city-type prefix (usually 684).
*The number at Feedback is not the contact number we have on file at City Light. When (the manager) tried the number James gave her to make the payment, James answered. When he recognized her voice he hung up.
*The amount ($260) bore no relation to any of our bills. Anyone who has dealt with disconnection knows that balances have to be paid in full to stop the disconnect.
*Anyone from City Light that calls about a disconnection has the ability to take a payment. There is no need to call another number.
*Most telling, there is no way City Light is paying anyone on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to go out and do power disconnects.
*I called police and reported this and they told me it is a currently running scam around town.
Also of note – when this scam went around exactly a year ago, City Light explained on its website that it does NOT cut off power for one late payment – you would get at least two written notifications. This kind of scam is a crime, so if someone tries it on you, call police, as the Feedback crew did.
We usually take it directly to recycling (and really should sign up for e-billing, since we always e-pay) but for some reason, when ours arrived this week, we looked at the newsletter – and discovered something we hadn’t heard. It’s small, but if you have routines around bill payment, you might want to know: Seattle City Light is changing meter-reading routes, mostly south of downtown, and that’s changing the billing dates. Go here to read about it and see how/whether yours is changing, either by clicking on a map or entering part of your account number.
Several questions this morning about the crew cutting up pavement and blocking a northbound lane on Delridge Way at Andover. Though there is a project on the drawing boards for that area, this is NOT related – SDOT‘s Marybeth Turner checked around and found out that Seattle Public Utilities was doing emergency sewer-repair work. (We haven’t been able to get back there in recent hours so not sure if the crew’s still there.)
4:49 PM: We’ve received multiple reports – including this photo courtesy of Kerry – about a water outage in the Hansen View area, southeast of The Triangle (35th/Hudson, 35th/Edmunds so far). Anyone else?
6:27 PM UPDATE: Thanks to Kerry for noting in a comment that the water’s back on – and thanks to everyone else who helped flesh out the details; very helpful since SPU does not have an outage map along the lines of what City Light has.
6:29 PM UPDATE: … maybe not for everyone, per Tracey‘s comment.
If you live in or travel through Sunrise Heights or Westwood, you probably know the “roadside raingarden” construction for the first phase of the Barton Basin Combined Sewer Overflow Control project continues to intensify. The King County Wastewater Treatment Division is building “green stormwater infrastructure” in eight blocks this year, seven blocks next year – 91 roadside raingardens in all. En route to a meeting last night, we noticed the activity on one block, 34th SW north of Holden (map), so went back today for a closer look (above). The county is now publishing weekly updates on its website – including what’s happening in which blocks:
For any residents who didn’t get block-by-block informational flyers, those also are available online. This project is part of state-mandated work to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Puget Sound; in this area, it’s called Barton because the wastewater ends up at the Barton Pump Station north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock.
P.S. The county is scheduled to present an update on its other in-progress Combined Sewer Overflow Control project, the Murray-basin-serving storage tank across from Lowman Beach, at tonight’s Morgan Community Association meeting (7 pm, The Kenney [WSB sponsor], lower-level meeting rooms, 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW).
9:18 AM: Seattle City Light estimates the power outage affecting a section of southwestern West Seattle might not be fixed until after 1 pm. SCL says “equipment failure” is to blame for the outage at 77 homes in The Arroyos. (Thanks to Susan for the tip.)
3:55 PM UPDATE: The estimates of power-restoration time have moved back, and we checked with Scott Thomsen of SCL about the status:
There is a crew working on this outage. We know that it involves underground equipment. We do not yet know what piece of equipment failed or where that failure took place. The crew is troubleshooting the system to locate the problem and identify it so they can make repairs. The … estimate for restoration of service is only an estimate and could change once the crew finds the damage and determines what is needed to fix it.
11:50 PM UPDATE: Looks like it’s finally over as of late tonight, after, as is pointed out in a comment, growing at one point to almost 200 homes. We’ll ask SCL again tomorrow what the cause turned out to be.
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Turns out it was not entirely resolved – see comment below – so we checked with SCL’s Thomsen again this morning:
Yesterday crews found that an underground cable failed, which caused the outage. They switched around the damage to restore power. A permanent repair involving the replacement of the cable is being scheduled.
Today, crews are investigating an outage on that same circuit. This is limited to equipment in a single underground vault. They are working to determine what piece of equipment failed. It is possible that the two events are connected. If the vault equipment failed first, it could have caused a surge that the cable could not withstand.
When the crew identified the failed cable, they believed they had discovered the problem and restored service to all customers. In some cases like this, a customer’s call to tell us they are still out is how we learn that there is other damage that needs to be fixed.
After cutting trees as part of a soil cleanup at two of West Seattle’s six “surplus” ex-substations, over the objections of community advocates including the WS Green Space Coalition, City Light said it would try a different technique at the Fauntleroy and Genesee Hill sites – “vactoring” contaminated soil in a way that WSGSC was told should make cleanup possible without destroying the trees. Thanks to a reader tip, we learned this work is happening at the Fauntleroy site (just around the corner from the Endolyne business district-let) right now. Meantime, as noted in our most recent report, the Green Space Coalition is continuing to advocate for a larger community role in determining the sites’ future – rather than what has been the usual past path of seeing them sold for housing development. City Light has said it could send disposition-plan legislation to the City Council – which has the final say – as soon as the third quarter of this year.
(City photo of Fauntleroy ex-substation site)
Another City Council committee has a West Seattle issue on its agenda tomorrow: As first mentioned here last week, the council’s Energy Committee meets at 9:30 am tomorrow at City Hall with an agenda including a briefing on City Light‘s surplus West Seattle (and vicinity) substations. Mary Fleck from the West Seattle Green Spaces Coalition will be part of the briefing; she tells WSB it’s one of two presentations downtown tomorrow, and they’re inviting West Seattleites to come to either or both, to support the goal of “slowing down the ‘disposition’ process because the best future solution may be to ‘re-purpose’ the land for public use rather than to sell it to the highest bidder for development.” The second presentation is at 3 pm tomorrow before the Urban Forestry Commission in Seattle Municipal Tower room 2750 (700 Fifth Avenue). Meantime, at two of the sites, City Light has crews working this week on what it says is necessary cleanup work because of soil contaminants – the Andover site on Pigeon Point and the Fauntleroy site in Endolyne. Fleck says that while WSGSC is disappointed that SCL removed trees at two sites including Andover, they’re encouraged to hear that the cleanup work at Fauntleroy will use “vactoring” to try to save trees while removing other vegetation.
Who’ll take over ex-substations? West Seattle Green Space Coalition meets Sunday; City Council discussion WednesdayMarch 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off
Two meetings in the next four days will deal with the six ex-substations City Light is getting rid of:
GREEN SPACE COALITION TOMORROW: Can’t make meetings on weeknights? The West Seattle Green Space Coalition, working on the future of six City Light-owned ex-substation sites in our area, invites you to its meeting tomorrow afternoon:
The West Seattle Green Space Coalition will meet Sunday, March 9 at 3:00 pm at the West Seattle (Delridge) Public Library. Topics will include follow-up on the WSGSC’s March 5th meeting with representatives from Seattle City Light and Tom Rasmussen regarding SCL’s project to decide within months what to do with former substations that have sat idle for decades, including ones in West Seattle. We made good progress on how to work with the City to come up with best ways to give the Neighborhoods more time to keep these open spaces for the community.
Here’s our report on the Wednesday tour mentioned above. Then on Wednesday:
CITY COUNCIL ENERGY COMMITTEE: A briefing on the ex-substations is on the agenda for the 9:30 am Wednesday (March 12th) meeting of the Energy Committee, chaired by Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Mary Fleck from the WSGSC is among those who will be participating. You can see the city’s slide deck here, including this slide outlining what happens next:
The Wednesday meeting is in council chambers at City Hall downtown; there will be a public comment period.
Update: Another West Seattle power outage affected ~2,000 after tree fell into Highland Park Way wiresMarch 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 16 Comments
(Looks like the early-morning outage map, but this is the NEW one)
1:34 PM: It feels like déja vu to those who were up for the two-hour power outage in the middle of the night – because the footprint is just about the same. About 2,000 homes and businesses are without power right now, according to the City Light map.
(ADDED: Highland Park Way closure; photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
1:53 PM UPDATE: From City Light:
A large tree fell into wires near Highland Park Way SW and SW Othello Street. It broke several of the tie wires that keep the power lines attached to the insulators on the poles.
Crews are working to reroute power around the damage. This will bring about 75 percent of the affected customers back into service in the next 60-90 minutes.
Crews will then remove the tree and re-hang the wires in order to restore service to the remaining customers. We estimate being able to get that done about 5 p.m.
2:20 PM: One commenter reports power coming back. A few hundred customers have dropped off the City Light map.
2:39 PM UPDATE: We’ve added a photo from HP Way, which is indeed closed; Metro is sending messages about reroutes, including Route 131.
5:21 PM UPDATE: Back open, per Datamuse, in comments.
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