Utilities 1062 results

FOLLOWUP: Alki pump-station project expected to start soon

We’ve reported previously on the upgrades – and art – planned for Seattle Public UtilitiesPump Station 38, on the water side of the 1400 block of Alki Avenue SW [map]. Now, SPU has announced the work is expected to start within a few weeks, so it’s time for a reminder. The city says the flow through the station has increased in recent years, so the upgrade will “convert the current pump station from an airlift-type station to a more standard pump station … to reduce the risk of failure.” The project has been awarded to Harbor Pacific Contractors, Inc. of Woodinville, for $2,066,085, according to project manager Jonathan Brown. (That’s up from the $1.2 million estimate last year.) The work is expected to last six to nine months once it begins; the start was estimated “as early as mid-May” when a notice was sent out recently, but now, Brown tells WSB, it’s “looking more likely that it will be a late-May or early June start” as the contractor is still working on right-of-way permits. The work will require parking restrictions and Alki Trail detours for people walking/running/rolling.

The project includes art funded through the city’s half-century-old 1% For Art program, commissioned from Idaho artist Sarah Thompson Moore. We reported last year on the updated design (shown above), including a safety guardrail that the site upgrade would require, with or without art. The city says the art “seeks to create an engaging and thoughtful space that highlights the history of local Indigenous communities and their relationship to the land and waterways surrounding West Seattle.”

FOLLOWUP: Seattle City Light’s Brace Point repairs now won’t start before next year. Here’s why

(Sign seen in project zone last July – photo sent by Nathan)

The Brace Point area south of Fauntleroy has underground electricity, and underground problems – with another outage just this past Monday. Finally, a major repair project that had been years in the making was supposed to start last year – Seattle City Light and its contractor even had a public pre-construction meeting in August. But then – major work never started. After questions from frustrated residents, we checked with SCL, repeatedly, and the answer was generally something about permit problems. Today, two residents reported that the contractor, Olson Brothers Excavating, had packed up their remaining equipment, with one worker telling a resident that they were pulling out and the city would have to put the project out to bid again. We asked SCL’s Jenn Strang about it – and she says yes, they’ll be looking for a new contractor, which means the work won’t resume any sooner than next year:

Over the past six months, we have been working through challenges with the Brace Point conduit repair project. In fall 2021, City Light encountered an unforeseen delay in issuing the notice to proceed (NTP) when it took longer to receive a required Department of Ecology permit than anticipated. During this time, a further complication arose with the contractor not being able to meet the Durkan administration’s policy for vaccine attestation for contractors working on City projects. As we negotiated with the contractor to ensure all requirements were met before issuing the NTP, our SDOT Utility Major Permit expired. With work delayed and the contractor’s non-compliance, we recently canceled the original contract.

We have been focused on reacquiring the SDOT permit. This process will likely take several months as we implement required design changes to comply with updated standards and coordinate review processes with relevant City departments. Once we have a permit in hand, City Light will proceed to advertise for bids, review submittals, and issue intent to award to the selected contractor.

City Light is working to expedite these steps to begin work as quickly as possible. The best-case timeline would allow issuance of an NTP as soon as early 2023 to late spring 2023. However, it is important to note that continued issues with supply chain and staffing shortages could create uncertainty with this timeline.

Even before all this, the Brace Point project was originally expected to start in 2020. At last year’s meeting with the now-former contractor, it was estimated that the work will last “two or three years” – once it begins.

Brown water in Upper Fauntleroy

It’s happening here at WSB HQ, just this past hour. We called the appropriate Seattle Public Utilities number – 206-386-1800 – and they noted ours was the fourth call they’ve received. They had no ready response but promised a call from a water-quality inspector. Discolored water is usually the result of sediment getting stirred up in the pipes – usually rust – but the cause can be anything from hydrant testing/use to a break somewhere.

UPDATE: Tree cuts power to 14,000+ West Seattle, White Center, South Park homes, businesses, schools

12:43 PM: Thanks for all the tips! Power’s out for many – we have reports from High Point to White Center so far – South Park too. Seattle City Light maps more than 14.000 homes and businesses out in the early going.

12:54 PM: The total is holding steady at 14,000+. We were spared here at HQ in Upper Fauntleroy – just a flicker – but our server is running slow under the traffic spike; we’re also updating Twitter. Just heard on the scanner that this is believed to have been caused by a tree being cut and hitting wires in the 6700 block of 25th SW.

1:08 PM: Obviously with such a wide area out, there are businesses and schools out (please let us know, or comment below, if you have any specifics) – also traffic signals, so if you are out on the road, please treat those as all-way stops.

1:21 PM: Our standard power-outage reminder – though SCL’s map has an estimated restoration time, those times, as we’ve learned over 15+ years of covering outages (and also hearing directly from the utility), are NOT based in any specifics an generally are way off – restoration could happen a lot sooner or a lot later, so don’t base any decisionmaking on the estimate. Meantime, NO word so far of any early dismissals at affected schools.

1:36 PM: Commenter says Southwest and South Park library branches are closed because of the outage. … SCL now confirms the tree report and says crews are on their way.

1:47 PM: Other closures include Southwest Pool. … More on the cause, from SCL’s Jenn Strang: “A tree took down two feeders, which resulted in a large number of customers affected. City Light anticipates that we will be able to get the majority restored early this afternoon but there may be a smaller group of customers that will be out for a longer period of time.”

1:57 PM: South Park is back on (thanks to commenter Lesley for that news) – the SCL map shows that lowers the total of customers currently affected to about 13,000. (Added, commenter says South Park Library has reopened.)

2:06 PM: More power just restored, per texter and commenters in High Point and elsewhere. (Added) Map shows 9,000 still out. Here’s the updated SCL map:

Basically, most of the north half of the original outage zone is back on. Commenters note that’s brought some businesses and schools back on line, too.

2:20 PM: And as commenters are noting, even more are back on – now down to fewer than 400 customers still out.

3:07 PM: Texter sent this photo of the downed-tree scene:

Those who are still out are mostly in proximity to the scene.

3:14 PM: Southwest Pool has confirmed it too has reopened.

5:59 PM: SCL says everyone has their power back.

UPDATE: Another Brace Point power outage

9:22 AM: Thanks for the tips. Another power outage has hit the Brace Point area, as shown in the Seattle City Light outage map screengrab above. SCL says 329 customers are out and is attributing the outage to “bird/animal.” Most past outages in the area have been blamed on the failure of underground equipment, which has long been scheduled for replacement/rehabilitation work that’s been delayed by what the utility says are permitting problems.

11:57 AM: We have an inquiry out to SCL for specifics on the cause; in the meantime, the map has revised it to “equipment failure” and downsized it to 160 customers.

2:48 PM: Still waiting for specifics from SCL. Meantime, the outage is mapped again at 329 customers.

3:42 PM: Since that last check, power’s been restored to all.

4:13 PM: SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang tells WSB, “The outage was due to a failed junction box. Due to the nature of the failure, it took some time to identify the fault. Once identified, we had to de-energize 169 additional customers to safely complete repairs. Repairs were made and power restored.”

Behind on your utility bills? City’s shutoff moratorium has expired, but help might be available

The pandemic moratorium on city utility shutoffs has expired. So if you’re behind, you can’t just let it slide and hope nothing will happen – you’re urged to seek help. Here’s the announcement explaining how:

Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) today announced new flexible payment plans and expanded assistance for customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Customers are urged to visit seattle.gov/UtilityBillHelp or contact the utilities immediately to learn more about their options. Both utilities offer flexible payment plans with no late fees for all customers, and for income-eligible residential customers, significant discounts and emergency assistance money are available.

“We know many of our customers face economic uncertainty that has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Andrew Lee, Interim General Manager and CEO of Seattle Public Utilities. “We are taking steps to ensure our customers are aware that assistance is available. We encourage any customer who is behind on their utility bill to contact us today for assistance.”

Approximately 8,500 SPU residential customers and 36,000 SCL residential customers are behind on paying their utility bills. About 1,200 SPU commercial customers and 4,000 SCL commercial customers are in arrears.

While the City of Seattle moratorium on utility shutoffs expired on Friday, April 15, SCL and SPU are focused on proactively engaging with delinquent customers to help them access assistance to get current on their bills. SPU and SCL will be communicating directly to customers who are in arrears to make sure they’re aware of resources available to them before beginning the process of shutoffs for non-payment. Customers who remain current on their payment plan and current bill will not be at risk for shutoff. Customers at risk of having their services shut off will receive additional, direct communications prior to a shutoff taking place.

“Many customers have struggled financially and made tough decisions about which bills to pay. We want them to know that there are options to help get them back on track and alleviate some of the stress through flexible payment plans or assistance programs,” said Debra Smith, General Manager and CEO at Seattle City Light. “Our aim is to get customers to a place where they aren’t facing shutoff for non-payment when the process resumes. We’re here for you and want to help.”

Residential customers can visit seattle.gov/UtilityBillHelp or call 206-684-3000 to set up a flexible payment plan and to find out what assistance is available to them. The City’s Utility Discount Program offers discounts of 60% off electric bills and 50% off water, sewage and solid waste bills for income-eligible residential customers. Utility representatives will also let customers know what types of emergency assistance money might be available to them.

Commercial customers who are behind on their utility bills may also sign up for payment plans. They are encouraged to visit seattle.gov/UtilityBillHelp, call (206) 684-3000 or contact their SPU or SCL representative directly for assistance.

To learn about other assistance for customers financially impacted by Covid, including those seeking assistance to avoid eviction, please visit City of Seattle resources.

Brown water in Pigeon Point

Another West Seattle neighborhood is dealing with discolored water – this time, Pigeon Point. Thanks to Matt for the report. No water breaks in that area reported currently, so there are various possible causes – the discoloration is usually from “sediment” getting stirred up in the line, most often rust. If it happens to you, report it to the Seattle Public Utilities round-the-clock hotline at 206-386-1800.

UPDATE: Brown water in Seaview

April 22, 2022 5:06 pm
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 |   Seaview | Utilities | West Seattle news

5:06 PM: Suzanne reports her water “suddenly turned brown” just after 4 pm and wanted to be sure others in the area were aware. She called it in to Seattle Public Utilities‘ 24/7 line – 206-386-1800 – and they’re investigating, but anyone else experiencing this should call it in too.

5:33 PM: Suzanne got a reply from SPU – they’re attributing it to hydrant testing. That stirs up “sediment” in the lines (mostly rust).

UPDATE: Verizon phone outage blamed on ‘fiber issue’

3:14 PM: Thanks for the tips. Verizon phone customers are reporting trouble, not just here but in other states too, according to online reports. No official company statement so far. But some government agencies are starting to acknowledge it too.

3:36 PM: We inquired with Verizon media relations via email. The reply: “We are aware of an issue impacting voice calls for some Verizon customers. Our engineers are engaged and we are working quickly to identify and solve the issue.” (This is affecting our hotline too, by the way, so if you have a tip, text 206-293-6302, don’t try voice calling!)

5 PM: Sometime in the past 15 minutes or so (since previous attempts), our service was restored, both incoming and outgoing voice calls – at least as tested with the AT&T phone we also have in the house.

5:06 PM: We’ve also received an update from Verizon: “A fiber issue in the core of the network caused some of our customers to experience intermittent call failures today. The issue was identified and resolved by Verizon engineers and the majority of impacted customers should be seeing service as usual. If any customer is still experiencing lingering issues, please restart your device. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Brown water in North Admiral

If you’re noticing brown water in North Admiral, you’re not alone. One resident we’ve heard from has called the Seattle Public Utilities number for reporting problems 24/7 – 206-386=1800 – and was told others had reported it, and that the problem was apparently related to construction in the area. Water discoloration is most often the result of sediment stirring up in the line – primarily rust.

From White Center Now: Balloon blamed for power outage

April 17, 2022 2:00 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | White Center

2 PM: If you’re headed to a business in the main White Center district, check first – as reported on our partner site White Center Now, 268 customers are without electricity because of an outage blamed on a balloon. (Thanks to Cindi for the initial tip.)

3:48 PM: Power’s restored, according to the SCL map.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Pavement restoration’ soon for site of California SW utility work

April 11, 2022 8:33 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

(Reader photo from January 2021)

More than a year ago, Seattle Public Utilities tore up part of California SW south of Morgan Junction to fix 55 feet of sewer pipe. Now they’re returning for long-promised “pavement restoration” work on California SW, between SW Frontenac and SW Othello [map]. SPU sent us the notice they say they’ve circulated to neighbors, saying work will start as soon as next Monday (April 18th) and last up to four weeks. Work hours will be 9 am-3 pm weekdays. This is close to Gatewood Elementary, and will have some traffic effects in the area.

Brown water in North Delridge

April 11, 2022 7:50 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

Thanks for the tip. Just in case you experienced it too – we’re told some neighbors near Dragonfly Park in North Delridge had discolored water this afternoon/evening. It was reported to Seattle Public Utilities, and believed to be the result of hydrant testing in the area – hydrant use can stir up the sediment, mostly rust, in the water pipes. (It happened so much in the mid-2010s, SPU did a West Seattle-wide “flush.”) If you ever notice discolored water, be sure to report it to SPU at this 24-hour number: 206-386-1800.

UPDATE: Emergency sewer work at 48th/Brandon

5:44 PM: Flaggers are on 48th SW at Brandon as Seattle Public Utilities crews work on a sewer-pipe problem. Here’s what SPU tells us:

Today, near 48th Ave SW and SW Brandon St, a sewer pipe collapsed while Seattle Public Utilities crews were removing significant debris. This is an 8” pipe, which is on the smaller side.

In response, SPU crews are:

setting up a pump and bypass system to ensure sewer service
working to find the exact location of the break
preparing for a possible emergency sewer repair

We have no additional details repair timeline. Please anticipate possible lane closures, parking restrictions, increased construction traffic and activities, and travel delays in the area.

9:18 AM THURSDAY: SPU tells us, “Crews worked overnight to repair the broken pipe and restore service to the affected homes.”

Beachfront street-end parklet to be expanded as part of pump-station project in south West Seattle

That’s what the beachfront SW 98th street end south of Brace Point [map] is supposed to look like after Seattle Public Utilities finishes a pump-station upgrade that’s expected to go into construction next year. SPU is circulating word to the neighborhood that the project is now at 90 percent design; it’s a popular spot for sea-life watchers, so it’s of wider interest. The SPU facility there is officially Pump Station 71, and it’s part of the system that pumps sewage and stormwater to treatment plants further north. Along with upgrades to the pump station’s functionality, SPU says:

As part of this effort, we’ll be making some improvements to the shoreline street end as well. Some of the improvements include:

• Removing the guardrail and extending the useable street end 20+ feet to the east.
• Replacing the current bench as well as creating a pad for wheelchair access.
• Installing beach logs and adding native plants and new trees to enhance the natural area in the street end.

Construction will last at least six months and “could start as early as spring 2023,” SPU says.

UTILITY WORK: Mile-long gas-main replacement project ahead for Beach Drive

In routine checks of city permit files, we noticed several mentions of Puget Sound Energy planning a pipeline-replacement project in the Beach Drive SW right-of-way. We asked PSE – which provides natural-gas service in our area – for details, and got them today:

Puget Sound Energy will be replacing 5,049 feet of a gas main line on Beach Dr. SW. starting in May with work expected to last about 90 days.

This is part of a project to improve the infrastructure in the area and provide safe and reliable natural gas service.

During the project, about 100 customers will have their gas turned off due to a service replacement of their line or their service lines being reconnected to the new gas main.

When possible, the gas main installation will be directional drilled to limit some of traffic issues on that street.

PSE is working with the Seattle Department of Transportation and will use flaggers to keep traffic moving.

All customers impacted will be notified before their service is interrupted.

Though the response from PSE doesn’t include specific locations, the permit files mention addresses where the service pipes to the residence will be replaced as a result, and those range from the 5000 block to the 6700 block. Site maps also label this as a project to replace DuPont-made pipe; a PSE document (page 15 here) notes that’s the result of a Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission directive for utilities to replace certain types of pipe that could be at higher risk of failure.

About Friday’s Avalon Way power outage

March 21, 2022 1:30 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

We got a few questions Friday night about a power outage on Avalon Way, but the Seattle City Light map had conflicting information about its start time, extent, and cause – so we didn’t have enough information to report it at the time. We did follow up today with SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang, who explained:

The cause of Friday’s outage was an underground transformer failure. The outage began with a smaller group of customers earlier in the day. When crews arrived to assess the situation, they determined that they would need to de-energize the vault in order to safely access equipment. This caused the outage to grow to 94 customers. The transformer was replaced and power was restored around 10 pm.

The outage was centered in the 3200 block of Avalon.

UTILITY-WORK ALERT: Sewer repairs on 35th SW

March 15, 2022 7:38 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

That metal plate marks the spot where Seattle Public Utilities crews have started work on sewer-line repairs that could last up to three weeks. It’s on 35th SW near SW Findlay (map). SPU sent belated word of the work today; here’s the notice, which describes the work as “part of a citywide
sewer rehabilitation effort.”

UTILITY WORK: Planned outage next week for ~500 customers

March 14, 2022 1:39 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | White Center

If you’re on one of the orange-shaded blocks of Westwood, South Delridge, and White Center, you should have received a notice from Seattle Public Utilities about a planned overnight water outage next week for about 500 homes/businesses: 9 pm Tuesday, March 22nd, to 6 am the next morning, Wednesday, March 23rd. SPU says the outage is needed because “SPU crews will be testing the water main shut off valves and preparing for some hydrant and water main work that will occur in April.” If you didn’t receive a notice, here’s the one-sheet explaining what to do and what not to do before and during the outage.

FOLLOWUP: Worn-out Beach Drive sewer pipe leaked tens of thousands of gallons

That’s where crews worked to repair a 27-inch-wide sewer pipe over the past few days, one week after it leaked, sending liquid bubbling up over the street and sidewalk on Beach Drive north of Lowman Beach. The King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which is responsible for this pipe, said sand and grit simply wore a hole in the concrete pipe, which KCWTD says is more than 70 years old. We asked about the volume of the leak, which bubbled up for hours. KCWTD spokesperson Marie Fiore tells WSB that via “modeling,” they estimate the total amount of the leak was 40,500, with about 33,500 of that discharged on the surface: “A portion was absorbed into the ground and most went into the storm drains.” Last week, after the leak was reported, KCWTD crews rerouted the flow from the leaky pipe into a parallel pipe, and cleaned the area; they returned starting this past Friday for repairs.

Brown water reported in Admiral

Just got a text from someone reporting brown water from the taps near 41st/Walker. No emergency outages reported on the Seattle Public Utilities map, nor recent nearby fires (hydrant use also can stir up the sediment – mostly rust – in the system).

Any time this happens at your residence/business, call SPU at 206-386-1800.

FOLLOWUP: Sewer-pipe repairs to affect Beach Drive traffic later this week

March 9, 2022 4:45 pm
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 |   Environment | Utilities | West Seattle news

(WSB photo, last Thursday)

Last Thursday, we reported on a broken 27-inch sewer pipe beneath Beach Drive just north of Lowman Beach. It’s a King County pipe, and the Wastewater Treatment Division has just announced plans for repair work later this week:

The parts needed for the pipe repair are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. We expect to begin the repair on Friday, March 11. At the start of work, contractors will close one lane of traffic. Work is currently planned to continue through Sunday. Upon completion of the repair a temporary patch of hot mix asphalt will return the road to an open condition. King County will return to complete the final restoration of the road at a future date.

During the work, one lane will be closed to traffic, so flaggers will be there to direct people through the area. Work windows are 7 am-7 pm weekdays, 9 am-7 pm weekends. As for the leak’s cause, KCWTD spokesperson Marie Fiore tells WSB, “Sand and grit has scoured the 70+/- year old concrete pipe, which wears it away with time and use. The parallel pipe is in good condition, as it experiences less use.” That parallel pipe is where the flow from the leaky one has been redirected until repairs are made.

Why the power’s out along parts of Beach Drive, Seaview

March 9, 2022 1:42 pm
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 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

A reader just texted to report arriving home in Seaview to discover the power’s out. Seattle City Light‘s map shows nearly 200 customers out; while the map doesn’t indicate it’s a planned outage, Beach Drive Blog reported receiving a notice about two weeks ago about a scheduled outage in that area today for installation of utility poles.