West Seattle, Washington
7:20 AM: Thanks to the Atlas Place residents who texted to share the news of a water break in the south Beach Drive SW area. They woke up to no water, contacted Seattle Public Utilities, and were told about the break. We’ll be checking with SPU to find out about the extent of it and how long it might take to fix.
9:18 AM: Went to check it out firsthand – the water is coming up in the street in the 6700 block of Beach Drive, not far north of Lincoln Park, and an SPU crew (as shown in our photo above) is on scene.
9:26 AM: Just talked to an SPU spokesperson who says that traffic will be blocked for the repairs, which will likely take “three or four hours.” The break is in an 8-inch water main, likely just a failure of old infrastructure, and they believe it’s affecting water service to 25-30 customers (households, since this is a residential area). We’ll check back later in the day so we can update when the crew’s finished.
2:43 PM: An area resident says the water’s back and the crew is wrapping up:
That’s the pipe problem behind the break, the resident was told.
3:46 PM: Seattle City Light has just restored power to the Junction businesses/residences that have been out in the aftermath of this morning’s Junction construction-site crane-in-wires incident (WSB coverage here) that left two workers in critical condition. Some businesses had closed because of the outage, while we found at least three that were able to stay open. We had a crew in the area just before power came back on, and we’re heading back over momentarily for an update, and to check on whether SW Oregon has reopened.
4:41 PM: Yes, the road has reopened.
Along with what we’ve already previewed, here’s one more event for tonight. While it is happening in South Park, Duwamish River advocates tell us this event is potentially of interest to everyone concerned about the river and its watershed. It’s a Seattle City Light community meeting tonight to talk about its planned Technical Training Center. The center, with classrooms and an outdoor training yard, would be on Hamm Creek, on the north side of SCL’s Duwamish Substation. The plan would include “wetland mitigation … with approximately 4 acres of habitats similar to historic conditions on the Lower Duwamish River,” as well as a walking trail. Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 6:15-7:45 pm at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Avenue S.).
If you can’t get to the meeting but are interested in commenting on the plan, SCL is taking comments through next Tuesday (September 20th) as part of its State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)-related review. Those comments can be sent to Margaret Duncan, SEPA Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail at 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, Seattle 98104.
1:21 PM: Thanks to the resident who texted to report a water outage in the 8100 block of 27th SW. We advised a call to the Seattle Public Utilities hotline (206-386-1800), and the resident reported back that SPU is working on a water-line break in the 27th SW/SW Kenyon vicinity. We’re checking with SPU to find out more.
2:07 PM: SPU spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin tells WSB that the break is on an 8-inch pipe at the location mentioned above [map]. “SPU crews have throttled the main, which means some customers are experiencing a reduction in pressure and while others may be out of water. This break is impacting about 25 homes and businesses in the area. At this time, I don’t have an estimated time when the repair will be complete and water restored.”
3:17 PM: Update from Goodwin: Repairs will take several hours, so the water will likely be back on between 7 and 9 pm.
(Map of outage area, from Seattle City Light website)
12:38 AM: Thanks for the texts: Seattle City Light‘s outage map says more than 3,500 homes/businesses have lost power, mostly in southeast West Seattle and White Center. No word yet on the cause.
12:53 AM: The map now has the “estimated restoration” time of 7 am, but we always add the reminder, that’s a guesstimate and it could be much sooner, or much later. SCL is still investigating the cause.
1:15 AM: Commenter SteveMG reports seeing SCL and emergency responders in the 8th/Roxbury vicinity.
1:18 AM: We’re getting some reports of power restored – mostly from South Delridge. No change in the outage-map total yet but sometimes it lags.
1:25 AM: Now the map’s caught up with the restoration reports – 294 customers (homes/businesses) still without power, in White Center. Here’s the updated map:
1:36 AM: Along with SteveMG, a commenter on our partner site White Center Now also mentions what seemed like an underground “explosion” at 8th/Roxbury. Here’s what SCL tweeted about the cause, without mentioning a specific location:
Crews have identified an equipment failure in an underground vault as the cause for the White Center-W. Seattle outage.
— Seattle City Light (@SEACityLight) August 31, 2016
6:27 AM: Power has since been fully restored.
Back when Seattle City Light started converting streetlights to LEDs, the conversion was initially planned for residential streets only.
Then, the utility decided in 2013 that it would be OK to convert arterial streetlights too, and while the subsequent work began in the north part of the city, this summer, that conversion has been moving full speed ahead in West Seattle.
This past week, we noticed a crew working late at night on the streetlights along the two arterials closest to WSB HQ, California SW and SW Thistle, which are now fully switched over in the Gatewood/Fauntleroy area. So we checked in with Seattle City Light on the conversion status, as well as the reason work was being done at night (while we’re still working at 11:45 pm, seemed a little noisy for residents who sleep more “normal” hours).
Spokesperson Scott Thomsen explained, “Crews have been working nights since June 1. This shift change was done mostly due to Metro trolley routes and to avoid disruption to busy arterial streets when they are most busy and for crew safety.” The night work is expected to end within the next month or so; in the meantime, he says, crews are reminded to be mindful of the noise, but while the “tool they use to loosen and tighten bolts does make a ‘ratcheting’ type noise” – this was the observation made in our note asing about it – “The crew will typically spend less than 10 minutes at any given light.”
Thomsen wasn’t sure how much longer the work, now in the service area south of SW Brandon, will be going on in West Seattle; though we do a fair amount of night driving around West Seattle, we haven’t seen the crews since the work close to our neighborhood around midweek. He says, “The scheduling estimates are not that specific since the crews work in rows across the service territory.”
Around the city: “A little more than 16,000 arterial lights have been converted to LED and our contractor will continue with conversions through December. In 2017, we should complete the arterial conversions.” Checking our archives, this appears to be an acceleration, as it was just last year that West Seattle arterial conversions weren’t expected to start BEFORE 2017.
Also from the archives: As this WSB story from 2010 shows, West Seattle was a test area when the city started planning the non-arterial streetlight conversions.
BACKSTORY: More background on the LED streetlight program can be found on this page of City Light’s site.)
10:24 AM: Thanks to Susan for the tip – power is out for what Seattle City Light says is 108 customers (homes/businesses) in The Arroyos and vicinity. The cause isn’t yet known, but the utility hopes to have power back by mid-afternoon, as of the latest guesstimate.
P.S. This is the same footprint and customer count as the outage this past May that lasted more than 24 hours.
11:21 AM: Scott Thomsen of City Light tells WSB that the outage has been traced to “equipment failure” and they’re now hoping to have the power back by 4:30 pm.
7:36 PM: As pointed out in comments, it’s not fixed yet and the restoration guesstimate is now past midnight. SCL says an underground cable is what failed.
11:05 PM: Still out, says the City Light outage-tracker map, now pushing the guesstimate to 4 am-ish.
6:35 AM: JL says in comments that the power returned at 5 am – that would have been after more than 20 hours.
If you live in the Hillcrest area, you should be getting – if you haven’t already – a notice from Seattle City Light about a project starting in early September, “to increase electrical reliability … by rebuilding parts of the underground electrical system.” Here’s where they’ll be working:
The city is circulating this flyer, and says its key points are:
· Three sections of the neighborhood, each one block or slightly longer, will have conduit and vaults installed. The work is the next phase in the refurbishment of the system.
· Trenching in the public right-of-way is planned from the first week of September through February 2017. Planned power outages may be required during this phase of the project. If required, customers will be notified in advance.
· Affected landscaping, sod, driveway aprons, and sidewalks will be restored to City standards.
Actual cable replacement will happen next year, according to the project webpage (see it here); no contact information there yet but SCL says customers with questions can take them to David Mannery, Electrical Service Representative, email@example.com or 206-386-4245.
We have a Seattle Public Utilities update on the repairs happening on 46th SW near Hudson, southwest of The Junction:
Part of this repair necessitates shutting off water for a small number of residents on 46th Ave. SW. The work will be finished tomorrow and those who are affected by the water outage have been notified. While we do not anticipate any impacts to other residents’ water, any time the water main is disturbed there is the chance of discolored water. If residents experience discolored water they should run their taps for two minutes before drinking. This water is perfectly safe to drink, however.
While most of the CenturyLink outage reports we covered here recently involved fiber internet access, some involved TV – and that caught the attention of a city division you might not have heard of: The Office of Cable Communications, part of the Information Technology department. We heard today from Jim Loter, a spokesperson for that division, which he explains “is responsible for regulating the cable television providers that offer services in Seattle.” He had seen the WSB reports and wanted to make sure you know about “customer rights during cable TV outages,” and pointed us to a new item on the city website Tech Talk which details those rights, including a pointer to the webpage for the Cable Customer Bill of Rights. Again, this is just for TV, not internet, but if you’ve had trouble with an unresponsive provider – it might help.
10:57 AM: For the third time in a week, we’re hearing from multiple West Seattle CenturyLink customers – via e-mail, Twitter, and comments – that their fiber Internet service has gone out again this morning. Locations mentioned in the messages we’ve received this morning include Admiral, Genesee Hill, North Delridge, and Beach Drive – sharing your general location in a comment, or message to us, helps, since otherwise there’s no mapping available along the lines of, say, a power outage. Some customers say CL has told them to expect service to return “sometime over the weekend.” Our previous reports are here (some were out all of last weekend) and here (an outage on Wednesday). We have a message out to CL’s media department again and will update when we hear back.
11:54 AM: Some customers are reporting they’re back up.
12:02 PM: A CenturyLink spokesperson replied to our inquiry:
CenturyLink has isolated the outage in West Seattle and continues to monitor the system to assure service availability. If customers are continuing to experience interruption to their high-speed internet or Prism TV services they should contact customer service 877-837-5738 and submit a trouble ticket.
They didn’t answer our question about what’s causing the outages, so we’ve asked it again.
5:36 PM: CL says “a hardware failure” is to blame.
It’s been four months since we first told you about Seattle Public Utilities‘ plan for a large-scale flush of West Seattle water pipes, to tackle a persistent problem with “brown water.” Crews have been out many nights over those four months, methodically conducting flushing operations, and they’ll be out again tonight – which, SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin tells WSB, will be of particular note:
SPU is approaching a major milestone with the West Seattle flushing project. After tonight’s flushing, we will have completed unidirectional flushing for the entire area shaded in purple on the [above] map. This amounts to 21 miles of water pipes in West Seattle that have been flushed to remove sediment and build-up and minimize the occurrence of discolored water for many West Seattle customers.
Next week we will start reviewing and evaluating all of the data from this first phase of unidirectional flushing in West Seattle. This will help us determine our next steps and focus areas for other neighborhoods in West Seattle that might benefit from flushing.
We are also looking into utilizing some new technology that will allow us to flush certain parts of the water system discharging a minimal amount of water.
Tonight’s flushing is happening at three locations in Admiral. This May followup includes photos from a flushing site we visited late one night, to show you how the process works.
6:18 PM WEDNESDAY: Just days after the CenturyLink fiber Internet outage that lasted all weekend for some West Seattle customers, we’re getting word of another one. The company doesn’t make official outage announcements, but starting around 4 pm – via comments on our previous item, and via e-mail – we started hearing about this. If it’s affecting you too, let us know, and please include your neighborhood.
10:01 AM THURSDAY: We sent an inquiry last night to local CenturyLink media liaisons. Here’s the reply just in from Caitlin Birkenbuel: “On August 10, CenturyLink experienced an outage in a West Seattle neighborhood, which impacted high-speed internet and Prism TV customers. The outage lasted 2.5 hours and was resolved at 7:05pm yesterday evening. We apologize for the inconvenience and would like to thank our customers for their patience during the service delay.”
FRIDAY NIGHT, 11:34 PM: No way to know how many are or have been affected, but we’ve been hearing from some West Seattle CenturyLink users who say their fiber Internet has been out since Friday morning. One is Scott in the 2700 block of 46th SW, who says he first reported the outage around 10 am, was told it should be fixed by 7 pm, then called again two hours later and got a recording with a projected repair time around 11 am Saturday.
Phillip told us via Twitter that his service has been out about that long, and via e-mail earlier in the evening, Nick said CL told him he was one of a triple-digit customer count with an all-day-into-the-night outage. Anyone else?
SATURDAY MORNING, 11:24 AM: Thanks for the comments. Via Twitter, @CenturyLinkHelp, rep Aaron just replied, “There are still a few customers down, but for the most part they should be back up from what I am seeing.”
SATURDAY AFTERNOON, 2:05 PM: … but people in comments and via Twitter are saying they’re still down.
SUNDAY NIGHT, 6:46 PM: See comments for updates from CenturyLink customers who say they’re STILL out. We will be checking with their media/public-affairs department first thing in the morning to try to find out what’s been going on.
Wondering what that Seattle Public Utilities crew in your neighborhood is up to? Might be this. SPU tells WSB that its crews will be around West Seattle for the next few months, doing “routine sewer cleanings and inspections”:
Seattle Public Utilities is cleaning and inspecting sewer pipes throughout your neighborhood. This work helps reduce sewer overflows and identify locations that need repairs or additional maintenance. Homes and businesses will continue to receive normal sewer services.
Crews will use water from fire hydrants to clean the pipes. Using fire hydrants can cause discolored water. Residents experiencing discolored water should run the water for two minutes before drinking.
Crews will be in one location for no more than 2 hours. Regular work hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Homes and businesses will continue to receive normal sewer services. However, you can expect:
Temporary lane closures
Temporary parking restrictions
Temporary street closures
Utility trucks and noise
Discolored water (Safe to drink)
This is *not* part of the ongoing pipe-flushing work, which also can lead to temporary discoloration – that’s for water lines, not sewer lines. And there can be other causes of discolored water, so if it does happen at your residence, let SPU know – 206-386-1800.
If you use the West Seattle Bridge east of 99 at night, it’s a landmark of sorts – Seattle City Light‘s big red neon sign. Soon, its neon will be gone. Here’s SCL’s announcement:
Seattle City Light has contracted with Seattle-based Western Neon Custom Sign Builders to replace the neon lights in the iconic City Light signs at its South Service Center at 4th Ave. S. and S. Spokane Street with LED rope lighting, beginning July 26.
The iconic signs will go dark during the project, which is expected to last up to two weeks. Once complete, the new lights will resemble the classic amber color of the original signs, which were built in the 1920s. The signs do not have Seattle landmark status, but they are the last remaining pair of full “CITY LIGHT” signs from that era. City Light historically had similar signs at its Yesler Substation and control center, the Cedar Falls powerhouse and the Lake Union steam plant.
“Historic signs give continuity to public spaces, becoming part of the community memory. They sometimes become landmarks in themselves, almost without regard for the building to which they are attached, or the property on which they stand,” said City Light Historic Resource Specialist and Architectural Historian Rebecca Ossa, quoting from the National Park Service’s Preservation Brief on Historic Signs. “This project allows City Light to preserve a bit of its early history while demonstrating energy efficient lighting for the thousands of people who pass by the sign every day.”
Replacement of the neon lights in the South Service Center signs is needed because they have outlived their expected life span and have become hard to maintain. Using LED lighting will save energy and save money while maintaining the historical look of the signs.
A team of employees from City Light’s Facilities and Customer Energy Solutions divisions and its Lighting Design Lab designed the changes. The last upgrade to the signs was in the late 1980s.
The City Light signs are actually 18 separate signs. Each letter is its own, separate sign. One set faces west and one set faces east toward Interstate 5.
If you live near any of these projects, we hope you’ve received the notification flyers already. Otherwise, you might have seen “no parking” signage and wondered – so we’re passing along the news from Seattle Public Utilities. Follow the “official notice” links for full details, including maps:
TODAY: In the 1600 block of Edgewood SW in North Admiral, SPU expects to start emergency repair work today on a broken sewer line and “roadway void.” Here’s the official notice.
THIS WEEK: On 46th SW north of Hudson, SPU expects to start sewer-repair work in two spots starting this week. Here’s the official notice.
NEXT WEEK:: One week from today, SPU expects to start work on mainline sewer repair along 50th SW between Spokane and Charlestown. Here’s the official notice.
FIRST REPORT, 3:33 AM: Just a few minutes ago, the power suddenly went out here on the Fauntleroy/Gatewood line. Anyone else? Not on the City Light outage map yet.
3:38 AM: Now it is. More than 3,770 customers (customer = home or business). Looks like roughly Brandon on the north, Henderson on the south.
3:51 AM: No word yet from City Light re: the cause, and we’re not hearing anything related on the scanner. SCL map now suggests a 10 am restoration time, but please keep in mind, that’s only a guesstimate – could be sooner, could be later.
4:05 AM: Though City Light’s Twitter feed is insisting on saying the outage is in Delridge, it’s not. No part of Delridge involved. High Point, Sunrise Heights, Upper Morgan, Gatewood, Fauntleroy, a bit of Westwood.
4:32 AM: Our power just came back on, in Upper Fauntleroy. (added) From comments, sounds like most other affected areas are back too, but the City Light map hasn’t caught up just yet.
4:40 AM: And now it has – outage over after a little more than an hour. Via Twitter, SCL says the outage was the result of “a bad cable.”
A month and a half after a community meeting (WSB coverage here) on whether to take over a King County-owned beachfront home at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW, the Seattle Parks recommendation is in – they support moving ahead with a swap of sorts that would in effect expand Cove Park next to the Fauntleroy ferry dock. Here’s the news release we just received:
After considering public comments, input from a public meeting, and City policy, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) has recommended that King County Wastewater Treatment Division move forward with the street vacation request which would involve the transferring of the King County owned property located at 8923 Fauntleroy Way SW to the City of Seattle. Having made this recommendation, the next step in the process involves King County Wastewater Treatment Division applying for a street vacation. This is one of many steps in the process prior to the Seattle City Council making a final decision on the street vacation and taking ownership of the property.
In 2015, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division finished an upgrade to the Barton Pump Station by the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal to accommodate West Seattle’s growing population. To build the new pump station, King County acquired the property just to the north of SW Barton Street for use during construction. Once the project was finished, King County began the process to surplus the property. With the City expressing an interest in the property, this raised the possibility of trading the Fauntleroy Way SW property to the City for a partial vacation of SW Barton St. (under the county’s pump station) which the County is interested in obtaining.
This potential trade is not solely an SPR issue, but rather a City issue that needs the input of multiple departments for an adequate review. The comprehensive City review required by a street vacation application will help provide the information necessary to fully inform the public, address unanswered questions, and lead to an informed decision by City Council.
The street vacation process will be run by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and will include plenty of opportunities for further public input and dialogue.
For more information on this proposal, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/cove_park/addition.htm or contact Chip Nevins, SPR, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-233-3879.
The possibility of Seattle taking over the county-owned house and 35-foot-wide strip of beach (aerial map here) was first explained publicly at April’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting (WSB coverage here).
(UPDATED 3:49 PM to clarify that the average bill will go up $1 – your bill may vary)
(Seattle City Light image: Gorge Dam)
The average electricity bill is going up about a dollar starting next month. Seattle City Light‘s announcement explains the surcharge it’s about to add, and might be keeping for a few years. In short – blame it on the weather:
Low revenue from the surplus energy Seattle City Light sells to other utilities has triggered a 1.5 percent surcharge on electricity rates, starting in August.
City Light generates power at its hydroelectric projects. When the utility has more electricity than its customers need, it sells that power to other utilities and uses the money to keep prices low for its retail customers. For 2016, City Light anticipated $60 million in revenue from such wholesale energy sales, but the utility is on track to earn only about $43.5 million as a result of warm spring weather at a time of low prices on the wholesale energy market. The warm weather melted mountain snow earlier than is typical, which meant City Light’s hydroelectric projects were producing surplus energy at a time of lower demand and lower prices than the utility might have seen in June or July.
To make up the difference between what was expected in the budget and actual revenue, City Light draws from a rate stabilization account created in 2010 to offset the volatility that comes with generating and selling hydropower. If the amount in the account dips to $90 million or below, a 1.5 percent surcharge is automatically applied to every customer’s bill until the account is refilled to $100 million.
The rate stabilization account had $89.1 million in it June 30, which triggers a surcharge that will be applied to customer bills, starting in August. The surcharge will add $1 to the typical residential customer bill every month. This is the first time an automatic surcharge has been triggered since the rate stabilization account was created.
Based on current financial forecasts, City Light projects that the surcharge could stay in place into 2019. Should the rate stabilization account’s balance fall to $80 million or below, the surcharge would automatically increase to 3 percent.
Once the account balance is refilled to $100 million, the surcharge is automatically removed. If strong surplus energy sales ever push the rate stabilization account’s balance to more than $125 million, the City Council can choose to reduce rates, have City Light pay down existing debt or direct the utility to pay for capital expenses with cash instead of borrowing money.
Thanks to Kay and Jissy for the tip: If you’re going to a local Seattle Public Library branch, be aware the West Seattle-area branches (Delridge, High Point, Southwest, Admiral, South Park) have been having computer trouble today. We just confirmed this with SPL spokesperson Andra Addison. It’s blamed on a fire affecting fiber optic lines, and while we don’t have specifics, apparently it was last night’s fire in the 4800 block of Delridge – not near the library, but the initial burst of flame was so huge (see the reader photo added to our story) that it may well have affected utilities. We’re trying to find out more; Addison says repairs are in progress.
Thanks for the tips – the City Light map now verifies a small power outage in a residential area northeast of The Junction, near 39th and Genesee. It lists “bird/animal” as the cause, and resident Keri verifies that, saying, “It’s unusual for our power to be out — we almost always survive the storms and other outages. Turns out a crow took out the transformer. It’s going to take a few hours to get it back on.”