Environment 1468 results

VIDEO: Fauntleroy Schoolhouse’s new way of looking at the world

Big installation project at historic Fauntleroy Schoolhouse today – new energy-efficient windows for The Hall at Fauntleroy, at the schoolhouse’s south end!

A crane was needed to install the windows – we recorded some video:

Here’s what one of the new windows looks like:

The Hall is a popular venue for events and meetings – this was a perfect time to get the work done since those aren’t allowed to resume yet. (Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering, which operates The Hall, is offering weekly family meals for pickup, though – more info here.)

Youth science project brings progress in pollution research

What a story something seemingly simple can tell – such as the moss that grows in so many places, so much of the year. The Duwamish Valley Cleanup Coalition shares this story of what’s being made possible by youth working on a community-science project:

Moss samples gathered by local youth can serve as reliable scientific samples to help guide air-quality improvements in the Duwamish Valley, a collaborative study has found. The study, led by Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition’s Clean Air Program, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station and other partners, demonstrates the value of community-gathered moss data as living indicators of air pollution in Seattle’s Duwamish Valley. These data can help identify potential areas of high air pollution for follow-up monitoring and mitigation.

Air monitoring studies have shown the lower Duwamish Valley has some of the worst air quality in the region, but little is known about the local concentrations and specific causes of the pollution. A persistent barrier to cleaning up air pollution in major cities is that it is very difficult to identify localized pockets of pollution at the block or neighborhood scale. Sampling tree moss can help with this problem. “Our cumulative health impacts analysis has shown that people living in the Duwamish Valley have higher rates of diseases linked to air pollution than other areas of Seattle,” said Paulina López, Executive Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. “We envision a healthy place to live and work where the air we breathe does not harm our health or livelihoods, and this study will help us achieve this vision.”

Using community-based participatory methods, 26 teens from the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps were trained how to collect moss samples to use as an indicator of air pollution, by Forest Service scientists and DIRT Corps members. In all, they collected 80 moss samples from street trees in a 5,300-acre grid covering South Park and Georgetown. Scientists then re-sampled moss at 20 locations sampled by the youth corps for comparison. All 100 samples were analyzed in the Forest Service’s Grand Rapids Laboratory for a suite of 25 metals and other elements — including heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and chromium — all of which occur naturally in the environment but which tend to concentrate in cities and industrial areas from sources like traffic and industry.

The study applies techniques developed as part of the Portland Moss and Air Quality Study, which, ultimately, helped to identify several previously undetected hotspots of air pollution in Oregon’s most populous city in 2016. The Portland study also demonstrated the ability of a species of moss commonly growing on trees in the Pacific Northwest, the same as the one gathered in Seattle, to serve as a bioindicator — or living barometer — of air pollution.

The Duwamish moss study’s overarching goal was to determine if community partners, with guidance from scientists, could successfully collect and prepare moss samples for heavy-metal analysis. If so, the study’s results could be used as a screening tool, to empower the community to take action in their own neighborhood by guiding placement of air-monitoring instruments in the Duwamish Valley as well as informing mitigation strategies.

Analysis showed that the samples collected by the youth were consistent with those collected by the scientists, demonstrating that trained youth could, in fact, collect reliable moss samples. Moreover, analysis of the samples yielded maps of concentrations of 25 metals in moss across the Duwamish Valley. “I did not know how much information you can get from moss, now I even look at the trees differently,” said Paola Silva [photo at right], a 15-year-old Duwamish Valley Youth Corps member who gathered moss in the study.

Moss data collected in the study are only an indicator of air pollution, not a direct measurement of metals in the air. Therefore, the relationship between metal concentrations found in the moss to what people might be breathing can only be known by taking air samples using air quality monitors. However, research — like that conducted by Sarah Jovan, a U.S. Forest Service research lichenologist who helped train the youth, coordinated laboratory analysis of the samples, and interpreted the data — shows that higher levels of metals in moss generally reflect higher levels of metals in the atmosphere, making moss invaluable for optimizing the placement of expensive—and, therefore, limited—air monitoring equipment. In addition to demonstrating the promise of community-gathered moss data, the study found that levels of arsenic, chromium, cobalt, and lead in the Duwamish Valley moss samples were higher than those found in similar studies of moss in Seattle-area parks and in residential areas of Portland, Oregon, that were part of the 2016 study. Arsenic and chromium levels in moss in the Duwamish Valley were generally twice as high as those in Portland.

In addition, metal concentrations found in the moss samples were highest in the industrial areas of South Park and Georgetown, especially along the Duwamish River, and lower in the residential areas. There are many potential causes of high metal concentrations in moss, and Forest Service scientists and partners at the University of Washington and Western Washington University are currently working to identify patterns of metal concentrations and possible causes and to study the potential value of different pollution mitigation approaches. The analysis can help the community, regulatory agencies, and the government to collaborate on next steps to address air quality issues in the Duwamish Valley and, in this way, empower the community to address local air pollution. In the meantime, the Duwamish Cleanup Coalition is sharing the study’s initial findings with local, regional, and federal regulatory agencies to begin conversations about potential mitigation efforts. “Even though the findings are still technically ‘preliminary’ and there is already widespread community concern about harmful agents in the air, given the potential public health significance of these findings, clean air is even more important now in protecting communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lopez.

Additional study partners include the U.S. Forest Service, State and Private Forestry, Pacific Northwest Region; Just Health Action; Street Sounds Ecology; The City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment; Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment; and the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. The partners were identified and convened as an Urban Waters Federal Partnership project.

Thanks to the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps for the photos.

FOLLOWUP: Despite school closures, teachers found ways to engage students in Fauntleroy Creek’s spring salmon releases

(Taproot School students created flags at home to brighten the release bridge where teachers released their fry. Photo by Michelle Taylor)

By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog

When school closures started in March, most of the 72 teachers leading Salmon in the Schools projects across the city immediately released their tiny fish into the wild on the chance that some might survive. In West Seattle, however, most salmon teachers found ways to keep growing their fish and to share releases electronically with their students.

Arbor Heights Elementary‘s tank tender Kristin Waitt Hutchinson spun into action as soon as the closure notice came. She quickly got a freshwater tank ready in her garage for the 150 coho fry she had been helping teacher Angie Nall care for at the school. Two months later, she brought the robust fish to Fauntleroy Park, where Angie shared the release as it happened with her students on Zoom. Read More

ILLEGAL DUMPING: On the rise; here’s what to do about it

Beth sent that photo of illegally dumped items along a West Seattle street. The state Ecology Department noted earlier this week that illegal dumping statewide – including toxic items – has risen during the pandemic. But it’s as illegal as ever, so if you see items dumped on public property within city limits – including roadsides, as shown – here’s what to do: Fill out an online report (linked from this page of the city’s website, which also shows locations already reported) or call 206-684-7857.

P.S. If you absolutely have to take something to the city transfer station – here’s the latest on their status.

SEEKING FEEDBACK: Online open house for Longfellow Creek Natural Drainage System plan

Three years after we first mentioned Seattle Public UtilitiesLongfellow Creek Natural Drainage System project – to get polluted stormwater runoff out of the creek – it’s reached a design milestone, and an online open house is ready for your feedback. It’s not just about the creek, SPU says, but also includes a “partnership with SDOT to include pedestrian improvements near the NDS project sites,” which are focused at Sylvan/Orchard, 24th/Kenyon, and further south along 24th. Check out the online open house here; they’re looking for feedback by May 15th.

EARTH DAY 2020: West Seattle signs!

2:25 PM: It’s Earth Day! Last week, we published a call for signs/displays in West Seattle. Here are some of the photos we’ve received. First – Terry Blumer and family created this in North Admiral:

The call was from the Care for Creation team at Our Lady of Guadalupe and Holy Rosary parishes, both of which have sent contributions – From OLG math teacher Bridget Lawler, on Charlestown Hill:

These were sent by Sr. Juanita Kialkial of Holy Rosary:

From Lucy Johnson, co-chair of the Care for Creation committee with Vince Stricherz, who sent us the announcement last week:

Vince sent this:

From Kanit Cottrell in Gatewood:

Debbie saw this chalk art at Hiawatha Community Center Park:

We’re adding more! Email westseattleblog@gmail.com or text 206-293-6302 – thank you!

ADDED WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Two more photos – this one is from Noodle and crew, a photo they took in Tanzania a year ago, displayed as a reminder that the Earth is a home shared by many cultures:

And Clare sent the next photo, explaining, “My 4 (John) and 2 (James) year old have been busy making Earth Day art.”

Thanks again to all!

REMINDER: Earth Day tomorrow – got a display planned?

Something to do on this gray afternoon, if you haven’t done it already – make your window/yard display for Earth Day – which is tomorrow! Last week, we published the call from the Care for Creation team (from Holy Rosary and Our Lady of Guadalupe parishes) to “place Earth-related photos or illustrations in windows or signs in yards to demonstrate solidarity with our planet.” Businesses are participating too – here’s the very first photo we received, from Cynthia at West Seattle Chiropractic, who says this is in the window at their (temporarily closed) clinic:

We’ll be showing more tomorrow – send a photo of YOUR display to westseattleblog@gmail.com – thank you!

NEIGHBORHOODS: A call for Earth Day displays in West Seattle

April 16, 2020 9:40 am
|    Comments Off on NEIGHBORHOODS: A call for Earth Day displays in West Seattle
 |   Environment | Neighborhoods | West Seattle news

Through these stay-home weeks, we’ve seen – and heard about – displays from teddy bears in windows to chalk art on sidewalk. Here’s a suggestion we’ve received for next Wednesday, April 22, in honor of Earth Day. From Vince Stricherz:

To mark the 50th anniversary celebration of Earth Day on April 22, the Care for Creation team from Holy Rosary and Our Lady of Guadalupe parishes is urging people all over West Seattle to place Earth-related photos or illustrations in their windows or signs in their yards to demonstrate solidarity with our planet.

There is only one Earth and it needs our attention. While we can’t get together right now, we can still show our hope and love for our common home. One possibility is for kids to make drawings around themes of clean water and air, and healthy soil. You also can download and print images such as the one below. As we walk around our neighborhoods, we hope to see lots of pictures celebrating our treasured Earth.

If you join in, send us a photo! westseattleblog@gmail.com or text 206-293-6302 – thank you!

FOLLOWUP: Construction underway for West Seattle Junction fast-charging station

Construction has begun at the site of West Seattle’s future city-installed electric-vehicle “fast-charging” station, on 39th SW in front of the south end of West Seattle Bowl. Here’s the announcement from Seattle City Light:

This week, Seattle City Light contracted crews began construction on two electric vehicle (EV) fast charger installations on 39th Avenue SW, between SW Oregon Street and Fauntleroy Way SW. The project is part of a program to install public EV-charging infrastructure in the utility’s service area

Project History & Feedback

In May 2019, City Light hosted a survey to collect feedback from West Seattle residents about the proposed EV charging site. Click here to read a summary of the survey results,

Project Details

Two EV chargers will be installed on the west side of 39th Ave. SW, between SW Oregon St. and Fauntleroy Way SW.

Crews will be trenching along the sidewalk on 39th Ave. SW to install underground electrical infrastructure.

Customers can expect parking and sidewalk restrictions during this project.

Noise is expected during construction due to heavy equipment.

Temporary power outages may be required to do the work safely. Affected customers will be notified in advance of any planned outage.

EV Charging Details

Only EVs can park in the designated charging spaces. EV parking will be enforced and limited to one hour. Vehicles that violate the parking restrictions will be issued a $124 fine or towed away at the owner’s expense.

Each charger will be equipped with CHAdeMo and SAE Combo connectors, which are compatible with all fast charge-capable EVs.

The cost to charge your EV at City Light’s fast chargers will vary depending on the time of day. A 30-minute charge may cost between $3 to $8.

Timing & Coordination

This project is estimated for completion in two to three months. Daily work hours are from Mondays to Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Here’s our December report on the installation of similar chargers in SODO.

Explorer West Middle School students go to Olympia to support sustainable-packaging bill

Five students from Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) visited Olympia to make the case for a sustainability bill. EWMS’s Dawn Fornear sent the photo, report, and link to video of their testimony:

Every year, eighth graders at Explorer West Middle School, with Social Studies teacher Tim Owens, tackle their choice of social issues and complete group projects aptly named “Change The World.” They present their findings to all grades and to a panel of social advocates.

This year, one of our student groups is tackling the issue of sustainable packaging, and this group was invited by Senator Mona Das to attend a hearing in Olympia. Our students researched Bill 6213, which would expand the ban on polystyrene products. Primavera Faggella, Christoph Lawrence, Mac Peterson, Hans Rehkopf, and Maji Williams offered their well-researched testimony and opinions, which can be viewed here. We are so proud of their hard work!

The committee that heard the students’ testimony on Tuesday, Environment and Energy, is chaired by – as you might have noticed in the video – 34th District Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of West Seattle. The bill currently is still before his committee for consideration.

Rescuing Roxhill Bog: Why it matters, and what’s happening now

(WSB photo, April 2019)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Call it Roxhill Bog, Roxhill Fen, Roxhill Wetland. Whatever you call it, it needs to be rescued, and the time is now.

Community advocates have sounded that alarm for many years. Now, it appears the wetland’s plight has the traction for something serous to finally get done.

That was the message at the “stakeholders’ meeting” that filled a room at Southwest Teen Life Center in Westwood last Tuesday night. The sign-in sheets showed a long list of organizations concerned with the health of the local environment.

“The bog is dry.” Opening the meeting, that’s how Rory Denovan – a West Seattleite who has long been involved wth the effort to help the bog – summarized the primary problem.

If that leads you to wonder “so what?” Denovan had answers for that right off the top. Three reasons why Roxhill is important:

Read More

West Seattle’s Chris Porter wins historic King Conservation District election

The otherwise-low-profile King Conservation District made history – and headlines – with its use of online voting for a Board of Supervisors seat, and now the results are in – Chris Porter of West Seattle won in a landslide, with 4,142 votes to his opponent Stephen Deutschman‘s 989. As explained here, three of the board’s five positions are elected, the other two appointed. Porter has been serving as an associate supervisor; read more about him here. Not familiar with the KCD? Its mission is explained here.

TUESDAY: Next step toward saving Roxhill Bog

That Seattle Municipal Archives photo from 1961 shows some of the peat in the area of Roxhill Park – which holds the peat bog at the historic headwaters of Longfellow Creek. As community advocates have noted for years, it’s endangered – but finally there’s movement toward taking real action to save it. If you’re interested, you’re invited to a meeting Tuesday:

Roxhill Park Bog/Longfellow Creek Headwater Restoration Project
Tuesday, February 11th 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Lower Level, SW Teen Life Center, 2801 SW Thistle

In a collaborative effort of community, nonprofit organizations, county and city agencies to restore Roxhill Bog’s ecosystem and provide the community with a safe and engaging natural area for recreation and education you are invited to a stakeholder project meeting to learn about this effort, its importance to the health of Longfellow Creek, its salmon. and saving of one of the last peat fens in Seattle. Climate change and urbanization have caused Roxhill Bog to degrade to a critical tipping point if not addressed now, restoration of its natural functions may no longer be feasible.

A hydrology study being conducted by Natural Systems Design is one of the first steps to restore Roxhill Bog’s natural hydrology, enhancing its water quality, improving ecological resiliency and benefiting salmonid recovery in Longfellow Creek and the greater Green-Duwamish basin.

The goal is to revitalize this natural area so it can again contribute to the creek’s health, support one of the most diverse bird populations in the city, enhance environmental education, foster outdoor recreation, improve neighborhood health and safety.


Overview of Roxhill Bog, its history, community, environmental & social challenges, opportunities
Connection to Longfellow Creek basin
Hydrology Study by Natural Systems Design
Discussion Breakout

FORESTS’ FUTURE: A few questions for you

A storm like the one that moved through last night reminds us about the fragility of some of our greenspaces. So it’s a good day to note that your thoughts about King County’s forests are being sought in a survey. Here’s the announcement:

Our spectacular forests store carbon, cool streams, and provide recreational opportunities. As we work with communities to develop a 30-year plan to expand forest cover and improve forest health, we’re conducting a public survey.

What is most important to you? Should we prioritize the role of our forests in confronting climate change? Or planting trees to improve air quality? Or promoting healthy forests in King County Parks? Or enhancing wildlife habitat? Or something else?

What are the most important actions King County can take with partners over the next 30 years? Should we focus on improving the health of existing forests or preserving additional forestland? Should we plant trees in areas where there is lower tree cover or should we plant more trees near rivers and streams?

We invite you to take a few minutes to take the brief survey to share your ideas for how we ensure that future generations continue to benefit from healthy, vibrant forests.

FOLLOWUP: What else we’ve found out about West Seattle Golf Course gasoline theft that fouled Longfellow Creek

(WSB photo, Longfellow Creek north of Genesee, Saturday)

4:58 PM: “Gas theft has been a problem at all our golf courses, from tanks and from vehicles.” That’s part of what we learned today from Seattle Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin, responding to our followup questions about last Friday’s theft from a West Seattle Golf Course tank that led to gasoline going into a storm drain leading to Longfellow Creek. We also learned how the gas was stolen: “They removed the vent and used a hose to siphon out the gas.”

(WSB photo, West Seattle Golf Course parking lot, Saturday)

The exact amount that got into the creek still isn’t known: “Around 300 gallons were in the tanks and 70 gallons left behind in gas containers.” That 70 gallons of gas was subsequently “filtered and then put back into the tank,” which is used, Schulkin said, by Parks vehicles. One of those vehicles, as we mentioned in our Saturday followup, was stolen; it has not yet been recovered; we obtained the police report today. According to the report, a Parks employee noticed the vehicle, a white 2016 Chevrolet Colorado, missing when he arrived for work just before 5 am. No other new information in the report. Schulkin says Parks is “developing some solutions for better securing the fuel tank.” Meantime, we have a few other followup questions out to the state agencies that were involved in the cleanup, but haven’t yet heard back.

ADDED 6:16 PM: We just got an update from Ecology spokesperson Ty Keltner:

As of earlier today, responders are not observing any fuel in the creek. There is still some upland soil contamination that may need to be dug out, so sorbents were left in the creek and storm drains in case something migrates downstream. At this point, SPU’s portion of the emergency response has concluded, and Seattle Parks is taking over. Ecology will be on scene tomorrow morning to determine if there are shoreline impacts and if any additional cleanup work needs to be done. We don’t have any updates to quantity spilled.

We also asked about the cleanup cost and how that would be handled. “Way too early” to estimate, he replied.

VIDEO: Cleanup continues after gasoline theft leads to Longfellow Creek spill

(WSB photos/video)

The cleanup continues at Longfellow Creek, one day after gas drained into the creek after an apparently interrupted siphoning operation at a city-owned tank at the northeast end of the West Seattle Golf Course/Stadium lot. We have some new information, mostly thanks to Seattle Public Utilities, which responded to the spill because it involved their drainage system. The actual spill/siphoning site is some distance from where the creek crosses the golf course:

But as SPU explains it, like many drains all over the city, these lead to the nearest body of water – and here, that’s the creek. The area where we photographed boom work this morning is on the north side of SW Genesee, across from the golf course:

The material they’re using just soaks up the gas, not water, SPU explain. They still don’t know exactly how much fuel got into the creek, because they don’t know how much the thief or thieves got away with. We did learn a little more today about the crime itself: SPU says the 70 gallons recovered by Parks included gas left behind in various containers, suggesting the siphoning may have been interrupted.

Also, an SPU memo sent to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s office, which provided it to WSB, also mentioned a truck had been stolen at the scene. Seattle Parks has yet to comment on the situation so we don’t know anything more about that. Back to the spill, cleaning it up is what SPU is focused on; spill program lead Eric Autry talked with us by the targeted tank, and we recorded the entire Q&A on video:

We haven’t reached other departments involved in this, including the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, to which SPU deferred questions about what kind of fish, and how many, the spill has killed. So many remaining questions might have to wait until after the 3-day weekend. The cleanup, however, is proceeding; as Autry mentioned in the recorded interview, the contractor is likely to be on scene at least through tomorrow. The state Department of Ecology has been on scene too:

SPU’s Autry also noted that “as environmental responders … we don’t like to see this.” Nor do the many who have long worked to restore urban greenspaces like this one – a reminder of their work was along the trail as we left the creek, blue-tagged plants awaiting placement:

Longfellow Creek ends at the Duwamish River, so this has the potential to have affected that beleaguered body of water too. We’ll continue following up.

UPDATE: Vandalism/theft blamed for fuel spill into Longfellow Creek

7:02 PM: A reader texted us that photo late today, saying the state Department of Ecology was investigating a reported fuel spill into Longfellow Creek at the West Seattle Golf Course. “Dead fish and odor in the creek on the 12th hole,” the text said. We contacted an Ecology spokesperson, who had not heard about it; since then, Seattle Public Utilities has tweeted, “Vandalism of an approximately 250-300-gallon gasoline storage tank has caused a fuel spill at City of Seattle’s West Seattle Golf Course. Gasoline has reached Longfellow Creek. SPU’s Spill Response team is on site and coordinating with (Ecology).” More as we get it.

7:51 PM: Just talked with the Ecology spokesperson we originally spoke with earlier, Ty Keltner, as well as with SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register. Keltner said Seattle Parks first discovered the spill early this morning, then contacted SPU, and notified Ecology this afternoon. A cleanup contractor already has been hired, they said, and they confirmed that dead fish were found and so the Department of Fish and Wildlife is involved in the investigation. Register said the cleanup and SPU personnel have booms out and will be on scene overnight; she’s not sure exactly how much got into the creek and how much of the fuel was stolen, but she says Parks recovered about 70 gallons.

9:13 PM: Our original tipster says they first reported this to Parks after noticing it while walking the golf course this morning. They shared a photo of what they described as the area where the tank is, by the golf course’s maintenance shed:

“The gas was flowing from there and then into the catch basin by the 18th tee box,” they said.

12:25 PM SATURDAY: We’re working on a detailed followup (coming up separately later this afternoon) after talking with SPU at the spill site and seeing cleanup crews at the creek. Not much additional information yet but cleanup work continues.

READER REPORTS: Beach debris at Constellation Park

No snow yet, but it’s been breezy, with “king tides,” and late today, we got two separate reports of debris washed up at Constellation Park south of Alki Point. The photo above is from Chaucer, who says, “An expensive-looking floating platform bigger than a queen size mattress has washed ashore at Charles Richey Sr Viewpoint.” The photo below is also from Constellation Park, sent by Chemine, who reports: “There is a large chunk of styrofoam attached to concrete that is washed up on the beach. … It is eroding and distributing pieces of styrofoam all over the beach.”

This comes wtth high “king tides” – nearly 13 feet tomorrow just after 7 am. Here’s what you can do about major beach debris. For Seattle Parks beaches, you can notify Parks for starters – the 24-hour maintenance-request line is 206-684-7250. As mentioned in our coverage of a beach cleanup last year, you also can report beach debris via the MyCaast app.

UPDATE: Wondering about those half-cut trees along Admiral Way?

From the “you asked, so we asked” file: The case of the “Admiral Way tree massacre,” as it was described by Doug, who sent that photo. We’ve received numerous inquiries about the half-cut trees, which are on Seattle Parks-owned land on the slope over the downhill side of Admiral at 34th [map]. So we asked Parks, whose spokesperson Rachel Schulkin researched it with the department’s forestry staff and tells WSB:

Those trees were removed as they were either dead or declining and were posing unacceptable risk.

That project is not complete. Winter storms have interrupted a lot of our planned work, including this project. Our plan is to return in the next couple weeks to reduce most of the remaining tree stems to ground level. A few appropriately placed stems will be left as wildlife habitat. Performing this remaining work will not need traffic control like the previous work did.

Besides the site’s high visibility along Admiral Way, it also attracted notice given its proximity to the city-owned land where ~150 trees were illegally cut four years ago.

3:17 PM: Schulkin has just sent this update: “We had time today and finished this project. We lowered all the stems except a few that we left for wildlife habitat.”

RECYCLING: City reminds you about plastic bags/film change

Back in October, the city announced a big home-recycling change – no more plastic bags/wrap in your cart/bin. Now that the new year has begun, the change is in effect, so Seattle Public Utilities has sent this reminder, including best practices for how to handle what you CAN still recycle via pickup:

With the start of a new year, the King County Solid Waste Division and Seattle Public Utilities remind residents that recycling right is one of the best resolutions they can make to protect the environment and make recycling effective. Recycling right means keeping plastic bags and wrap out of curbside recycling bins and carts, and making sure all recycling is empty, clean and dry.

As of Jan. 1, garbage and recycling collection programs no longer accept plastic bags and plastic wrap in curbside recycling carts and bins.

Instead, customers should take those separated materials to one of the more than 100 drop-off locations in King County where these materials can be properly recycled. This includes plastic retail bags, sandwich bags, produce bags, dry cleaning bags, and the plastic wrap around bundled toilet paper and paper towels.

Find the full list of materials accepted at drop-off locations and a directory of drop-off locations at plasticfilmrecycling.org. King County and SPU are working to expand drop-off locations that accept plastic bags and plastic wrap for recycling.

While bringing plastic bags and wrap to a drop-off location is best for the environment, customers in Seattle and King County also can throw them in the garbage. It’s better to toss them out rather than contaminate other collected recyclables.

Plastic bags and wrap are often wet or have food waste on them when placed in the curbside recycling and contaminate other materials. Additionally, at recycling facilities, these plastics can jam sorting and processing equipment, leading to frequent shutdowns so workers can remove the tangled materials.

Bringing plastic bags and wrap to a drop-off location keeps the bundled recyclables cleaner and easier to manufacture into new products.

Other ways to recycle right include:

• Make sure your recycling is empty, clean, and dry before putting it in the recycling bin;
• When in doubt, find out – check your city or recycling collection company’s guidelines on which materials are recyclable and which are garbage; and 
• Always recycle empty, clean, and dry plastic bottles, tubs, and jugs; paper; glass bottles and jars; metal cans; and cardboard. 

Find more information at these websites:

· Drop-off locations for plastic bags and wrap

· Seattle Public Utilities information on plastic bags and plastic wrap

· Where Does It Go Tool

· Responsible Recycling Task Force

· Recycle Right

Local dropoff locations listed via the lookup include Admiral and Roxbury Safeways and Westwood Village Target. The private service Ridwell offers home pickup of plastic wrap/film/bags, too.

WEST SEATTLE HOLIDAYS: This year’s Christmas-tree composting plan, plus bonus seasonal-recycling reminder

We’re not suggesting you rush it out the door, but make sure your tree doesn’t stay up so long that it’s in danger of this …

When you’re ready to part ways with it, here’s the city announcement for this year’s schedule, and more:

Seattle Public Utilities encourages Seattle residents to compost their Christmas trees and other holiday greens for free through January 31, 2020. Residents should place trees or bundled greens next to their food and yard waste cart on their collection day. Apartment residents may place two trees next to each food and yard waste cart on each collection day. Trees must be cut into lengths of four feet or less and all decorations, lights, tinsel, and other decorations must be removed.

In addition to curbside collection, Seattle residents may drop off trees and other holiday greens for free at SPU’s north or south transfer stations through January 31. Stations will accept up to three trees per vehicle.

Recycle Your Holidays: Composting Christmas trees is just the beginning when it comes to holiday recycling. Many common holiday items can be recycled or reused. Customers can find out how to cut down on the amount of holiday waste that ends up in the landfill by checking SPU’s Where Does It Go Tool: www.seattle.gov/util/myservices/wheredoesitgo.

The photo is from a recent tree-safety demonstration presented by SFD (who provided the image) and other departments. While your tree is still up, follow the safety advice!

P.S. If you have Wednesday-Friday trash/recycling collection, remember it slides a day this week and next. (Mondays/Tuesdays remain on schedule.)

WEATHER: What else the record-setting rain is doing

As you’ve probably heard, the rainfall this past day-plus is record-setting, 3+ inches. Besides ponding on roads and sidewalks, and turning the ground spongy, there’s one other effect of note: Waterway pollution. The framegrab is from this online map that tracks whether county and city outfalls are experiencing “combined-sewer overflows” – and the ones marked in red were doing just that when we checked just after the top of the hour, including outfalls south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock, along Harbor Island, and on the Duwamish River. The combined-sewer system refers to rainwater draining into the sewer system at such a volume that it overwhelms the system’s capacity. Both the city and county have built projects in recent years – like the Murray Wet Weather Facility across from Lowman Beach Park – to try to reduce the frequency and amount of overflows, but some still happen. In addition to facilities like the one at Lowman that store water until it can be released into the system without an overflow, other projects have sought to relieve the burden on the system by other means such as raingardens and retention ponds.

P.S. Though you can’t stop the rain, you can lessen the effect of stormwater pollution – both CSO-related and the kind that drains directly to local waterways – by following advice like this.

Seattle City Light unveils new vehicle chargers near West Seattle Bridge, with Junction installation soon

That’s one of the new electric-vehicle “fast chargers” that Seattle City Light is making available for public use in SODO, just off the West Seattle Bridge, and similar to the ones it will install soon in The Junction. First, the SODO announcement:

Seattle City Light announced the launch of five city-owned electric vehicle (EV) chargers at the utility’s South Service Center in SODO, with plans for at least four additional locations in 2020. The publicly accessible stations are part of a pilot program to install 20 EV fast chargers throughout the utility’s service area and supports the city’s Drive Clean Seattle initiative, which centers on delivering community-focused transportation solutions.

“The new charging stations are part of a larger transportation electrification strategy that will allow us to leverage our clean electricity and reach the city of Seattle’s goals of reducing carbon emissions by 2050,” said Debra Smith, General Manager and CEO of Seattle City Light. “This pilot will help us understand the impacts of EV charging on the electrical system as we lay the groundwork to support electrifying all modes of transportation, from passenger vehicles to buses, the Port of Seattle, heavy-duty vehicles and ferries.”

City Light also announced changes to charge fees at utility-owned public EV fast charging stations. Users will be charged $0.31 or $0.17 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in Seattle (dependent upon the time of day). Previous fees were listed at $0.43 per kWh. The cost-to-charge can change based on the charger’s location and the time of day. At a City Light fast charger, a typical electric car can charge up to 50 kWh in an hour, providing battery power for about 165 miles. This charge would cost approximately $15.88 during “Daytime” hours or $8.69 during “All Other Hours” in Seattle.

“The reduced fees come at a time when City Light is developing a Transportation Electrification Plan that will identify priorities for the utility’s investments in increasing equitable access to electric transportation, reducing carbon emissions, and bringing value to the electric grid and City Light customers,” said Emeka Anyanwu, City Light’s Energy Innovation and Resources Officer.

This new fee structure ensures City Light stays competitive with other EV charging stations in the Seattle area. The charging fees will allow the utility to recover our operating, capital and energy costs over the lifespan of the charging equipment.

Learn more about City Light’s EV programs by visiting seattle.gov/light/electric-vehicles.

Now, about the upcoming West Seattle charging stations – as reported here last spring, they’re planned on 39th SW south of SW Oregon, by West Seattle Bowl. SCL’s project map says they’re expected to be up and running in March.