FOLLOWUP: Alki sewer overflow blamed on ‘old infrastructure’

(WSB photo)

The sign’s still up at Bonair/Alki, one day after Seattle Public Utilities reported a sewer overflow into Puget Sound. The warning zone is at the easternmost end of the beach – it covers “water activities” for about 600 feet in either direction. Today SPU spokesoerson Sabrina Register told WSB the amount of spilled sewage is estimated at about 1,655 gallons. And a pump station was not involved, she said – rather, “An initial assessment shows structural failure (a collapsed mainline) on nearly 100-year-old infrastructure.” SPU work crews were seen in the area earlier today:

Thanks to Chas Redmond for that photo. We’ll check on the repair plasn tomorrow; SPU has said the warning signage will remain in place until water sampling shows it’s safe.

19 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Alki sewer overflow blamed on 'old infrastructure'"

  • d April 28, 2021 (8:03 pm)

    Does the collapse have to do with the 100 yr old infrastructure not being able to support new construction or was the failed main line supporting longtime existing buildings? 

    • Auntie April 28, 2021 (8:22 pm)

      I’m guessing the main was designed 100 years ago to support the single family houses along the strip. There are now condos with a massive number of people living all along there – certainly more than was intended when this was built. No wonder it collapsed. 

    • bill April 28, 2021 (8:47 pm)

      Old pipes decay. The ground moves. Stuff breaks. Thinking about my house’s 70 year old sewer … maybe it’s time to sell and make it someone else’s problem.

      • Auntie April 28, 2021 (10:00 pm)

        Or get relatively inexpensive water line/sewer line insurance. Our plumbing dates back to 1942 and I’m thinking it could go at any time. But I’ve got insurance to cover it.

      • Derek April 29, 2021 (7:06 am)

        Most of the lines around here are clay. If your house is older than 60 years, you need to replace your sewer with PVC and main lines with PEX. Roots and dirt and things are filling your sewer by now unless you use a plumber jetter yearly. Stop drinking rust and prioritize replacing your sewer. When it breaks, you’ll be paying 3-4x as much.

  • Keep Seattle Hostile April 28, 2021 (8:14 pm)

    Next time you see the city spending money on superfluous projects like road diets and speed bumps, maybe serve this as a reminder of crumbling infrastructure all around us that needed that money yesterday.

    • bill April 28, 2021 (8:44 pm)

      Yep. Safety last.

      • WTF April 28, 2021 (9:30 pm)

        If people haven’t figured out how and why NOT to walk in the street, we’re more doomed than predicted.

      • Anne April 28, 2021 (9:45 pm)

        Or maybe safety for all – including environment . Hopefully no one was in that water before it was posted.

    • Jort April 29, 2021 (1:10 pm)

      I think you might be overestimating, in your mind, just how much “speed bumps” actually cost in in comparison to the hundreds of miles of utilities buried underground in this city. Also an interesting fact: a city can spend money on both utility repair AND speed bumps! Crazy, right?!?!?!?!

  • Vanessa April 28, 2021 (9:17 pm)

    May I suggest to homeowners that you add a very inexpensive rider onto your homeowners insurance ($100 or less per year) for 10-20 thousand dollars of sewer/plumbing costs when you’re lines burst or clog. 

    • Rara April 28, 2021 (10:02 pm)

      Good idea! Thank you

    • Derek April 29, 2021 (7:19 am)

      Insurance will absolutely not cover clay sewers and iron/clay mains. 

    • Fairmont April 30, 2021 (9:00 am)

      FYI if you read the fine print on most of these policies they will not cover the full amount (last I saw was max $2k even though $10k is avg cost), they will only cover full failures not partial, they will only cover the repair of the failed section not the replacement/lining of the whole line, they will choose the contractor which sides with the insurer and it could take longer to fix as a result which means no sewer for you. Old lines will fail eventually, no insurer wants to fully pay for that as they won’t make money. Don’t waste your money. 

  • Colonel Mustard's Wrench April 28, 2021 (10:19 pm)

    City of Seattle continues to demonstrate incompetence at maintaining infrastructure. 
    And why does Seattle Dept of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) allow ridiculous loading of the sewer main ? 
    SPU, are you not dialoguing with SDCI to come up with maximum limits of load on the sewer main? 

    Does the city think “Run To Failure” is the best way to manage sewer mains ? 

    Really ? 

    And at what cost to the environment ? 
    And at what cost to the tax payer with band-aid fixes until properly sized replacement pipe is installed ? 
    And at what cost to the tax payer for the inevitable fines for the sewage released into Elliott Bay ? 

    Makes as much sense as King County allowing massive sewage overflows at the West Point Treatment Plant in Magnolia.  (Dow – when are you going to get that fixed ?  Could be a reason to vote Nguyen for KC Executive.)

    • Foop April 29, 2021 (3:48 am)

      This may shock you, but this isn’t just a ‘city’ problem. It’s a national lack of focus. Look at the pushback on the current infra bill being proposed for anything that’s not more concrete for roads.

  • JohnW April 29, 2021 (8:38 am)

    Incredible extrapolation of a fiction by the ‘Colonel.’  
    No where was it written that the problem was caused by “ridiculous loading of the sewer.”  
    Further, the infrastructure of sewer pipes is not being challenged by volume.  
    Rather it is their age, type of pipes, shifting soil and age. 
    The sewer loading that ‘Colonel Mustard’ claims is not the problem.  

    All of the new construction adds much less sewage and storm drains due DCI code requirements and high efficiency low water usage toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, showers and faucets.  
    The new construction is required to build infiltration ‘rain gardens’ for surface and roof runoff.Finally the claim that King County, Dow or anyone is, “allowing massive sewage overflows at the West Point Treatment Plant in Magnolia,” is absolutely nonsense.  
    The sewage overflows were reported and documented as a result of a mechanical problems at the 

    • bolo April 29, 2021 (10:19 pm)

      “All of the new construction adds much less sewage and storm drains due DCI code requirements and high efficiency low water usage toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, showers and faucets.”
      OK maybe that equation is logical for the same number of individuals before/after but are you trying to tell us that the previous households that were made up of 1, 2, 3, 4, or maybe 5 people used more water than the replacement higher density buildings consisting of 100’s of individuals? Even assuming the older residences were not retrofitted with low-flow fixtures?

    • Colonel Mustard's Wrench April 30, 2021 (10:26 am)

      OK John W,
      Let’s review the last sewage dump from the West Point Facility. 
      They say that because the power went out, the sewage dumped.
      How is it that such an important facility does not have back-up generators for the inevitable power outages ?
      This is a county facility. 
      If there is enough political will (County Executive Dow Constanitine), there will be enough budget for the much needed back-up generators.

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