Another ceremonial groundbreaking today – this one, just outside West Seattle, at the sprawling site that used to hold several business buildings, including a Taco Time and service station, just east of the north end of the 1st Avenue South Bridge [map]. The announcement from King County:
King County Executive Dow Constantine today led the groundbreaking ceremony for a major infrastructure project that will protect the water quality of the Duwamish River and the surrounding community.
The Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station will treat up to 70 million gallons of polluted stormwater runoff that currently flows into the Duwamish River during severe rainstorms. It is the first of eight capstone projects that will complete King County’s four-decade work to control the combined sewer overflow that still occurs in parts of Seattle where sewer lines were installed in the early to mid-20th century.
“Today, we start work on a major King County infrastructure project that will protect the Duwamish River from stormwater pollution for the next century,” said Executive Constantine. “This is a key part of our broader effort to protect Puget Sound, restore salmon habitat, and honor treaty rights.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected it as one of a dozen projects nationwide that qualifies for low-interest loans through its highly competitive Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program. King County’s project in Georgetown is eligible for $134.5 million in loan funding, which would cover nearly half of the cost and potentially save sewer ratepayers up to $34 million.
“EPA’s new infrastructure finance and loan program aims to accelerate local investments in regionally significant and innovative water infrastructure projects,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick. “King County’s wet weather treatment station will build on EPA’s renewed efforts to update our nation’s water infrastructure. Completing this project will help restore and protect the Duwamish River and Puget Sound, which are among EPA’s top priorities in the Pacific Northwest.”
King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division conducted extensive community outreach throughout design phase to ensure the $262 million project reflects the local character. The sustainable design includes a green roof and cisterns to filter and collect stormwater. King County will also plant trees to improve air quality in the Georgetown neighborhood, which has one of the highest asthma rates in Seattle.
The treatment station will also provide a space for school programs and environmental education.
The five-year construction project will also generate family-wage jobs in the community. It is one of three King County construction projects that are part of a pilot program, Priority Hire, which requires contractors to train and hire construction workers living in local ZIP codes with high levels of poverty and unemployment.
In 2017 and 2018, King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division is leading more than $400 million in major capital programs that will build and upgrade existing infrastructure. The projects will create more than 900 family-wage construction jobs.
The WTD has had stormwater-related projects in West Seattle in recent years – most notably the Murray Wet Weather Facility across the street from Lowman Beach, completed last year.