West Seattle, Washington
Thanks for the tip. A reader found a sign on the door at Westwood Village Marshall’s saying the store’s without power. The Seattle City Light map shows a 26-customer outage in the area, blamed on “equipment failure.” We went to the center for a quick survey and it appears that businesses north of QFC, on the east-facing side, are affected, so if you’re planning to go to one of the businesses in that area, try calling before you leave.
4 PM: Thanks for the tip. On this blustery afternoon, a fallen tree/branch is blamed for that 46-customer power outage southeast of Westwood Village. The reader who texted us says, “We heard a loud boom and then everything went dead.” No other outages reported in West Seattle so far today.
5:31 PM: Our tipster tells us the power was restored around 5.
12:49 PM: We noticed that work crew on the north side of 47th/Admiral this morning and since we saw SDOT logos, we sent an inquiry to see if it’s related to the signal troubles at that intersection. While awaiting that reply, we’ve since heard from one nearby resident who says the crew was working on sewer/water, while another says crews were working with the hydrant a few blocks north at 47th/Walker, and that brown water has ensued. So we’re checking with SPU too, but in the meantime, if you’re in the area, check your water before laundry/bathing/etc.
ADDED THURSDAY NIGHT: Here’s what we heard back from SDOT:
Our workers were repairing the road panels, replacing old concrete with new ones featuring curbs. This project is unrelated to the traffic signal issue.
Regarding the traffic signal problem, today a backhoe accidentally blocked a traffic light sensor, causing the light to remain on as it detected a vehicle presence all day. However, the digging is now complete, so we anticipate no further issues with the signal.
To stop issues like this from happening again, we made the northbound detection zone smaller to catch problems with illegal parking or similar situations. We’re still looking into the problem by putting in a hard drive to take pictures for a better look. This should help us find out why it’s acting up.
Just reported by email: “Starting this evening I noticed our tap water was noticeably brown. Not sure if it’s just our house. We’re by 15th Ave SW and Henderson.” No incidents on the Seattle Public Utilties water-trouble map; if it happens to you, be sure to report it to SPU’s 24-hour hotline, 206-386-1800. (And us too!)
12:47 PM: Police are helping SFD block off traffic on 40th SW between Hudson and Dawson [map], southeast of The Junction. Fire crews say a 3/4-inch gas line has been severed and they’re evacuating some homes in the area. They’re awaiting Puget Sound Energy to shut off the gas.
1:13 PM: The incident commander has just told dispatch that PSE has arrived and is “assessing.”
1:51 PM: Firefighters have deemed the nearby houses safe to re-enter, and they’re getting ready to leave the scene.
12:10 PM: Thanks for the texted tip: “Reporting brown water in Alki, near Admiral and 64th. There was a fire truck out earlier, but I wasn’t paying attention if they messed with the hydrant.” Nothing on the Seattle Public Utilities water-trouble map. Any time you notice discolored water at your residence, business, school, etc., report it to SPU at 206-386-1800 (and let us know too – thank you!). The discoloration is from “sediment” – usually rust – in the pipes getting stirred up by activity such as hydrant testing/use or pipe breaks.
2:19 PM: Also received this note from Karla: “All morning we’ve had brown water in High Point (5400 block of) 34th Ave SW.”
Just in from Seattle Public Utilities:
Beach closure signs (are) posted near Cormorant Cove.
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) responded to reports of a broken (private) side sewer at 3717 Beach Drive SW on Saturday.
The customer hired a contractor to repair a small leak at one of the units. The customer is working with a contractor to perform the repair during favorable tidal conditions this week.
On the recommendation of Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC), SPU has posted signs notifying the public the beach in that immediate area is currently closed to water activities. SPU is working with PHSKC to determine when the beach can be reopened.
The listed address is that of the over-water Harbor West Condos immediately south of Cormorant Cove Park. We’ve reported on several previous sewage-leak problems there.
From a reader via text: “Brown water alert just south of Gatewood Elementary. No known fire hydrant activity on our street (Woodside).” Nothing on the Seattle Public Utilities water-trouble map, either. If this happens at your home/business/etc., be sure to report it to SPU at 206-386-1800, even if you think someone else already has.
Lori wonders if this is happening to anyone else tonight: “Started noticing brown water at our house, near intersection of Erskine & 46th SW.” Nothing on Seattle Public Utilities‘ map so far; if you have water trouble, including discoloration, be sure to report to SPU at 206-386-1800.
Shortly after publishing this story about the city graffiti law, we went to the future Morgan Junction EV-charging lot to check on the much-tagged fencing mesh that Seattle City Light had promised would be removed. As you can see in our photo above, the fencing wrap has been removed; we last recall noticing it still in place on Tuesday, so this would have happened sometime in the past few days. Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker brought up the longrunning vandalism at her organization’s meeting last week (WSB coverage here); when we then followed up with SCL, they said the mesh wasn’t needed any more anyway, so they’d remove it. The fencing went up after an environmental cleanup and tree/shrub removal at the 42nd/Morgan/Fauntleroy site, which is expected to open for EV charging in about a year.
Seattle Public Utilities is working to get the word out about two things that aren’t supposed to go in the garbage any more: Batteries and electronics. It’s a new city rule as of the start of this year. SPU explains both categories need “special handling”; batteries in particular have become a major fire risk at transfer stations. In short:
What doesn’t go in the garbage?
-Cathode ray tubes
-Electronic products covered by the Washington Electronics Recycling Law. These include:
*Computers and Laptops
*Tablets (like iPad and Amazon Fire)
*E-Readers (like Kindle and NOOK)
*Portable DVD Players
-Batteries, as defined under the state’s Dangerous Waste Regulations. Examples of batteries include but are not limited to:
*Miniature button cell batteries
*Alkaline, silver oxide, zinc air, and other single-use batteries
*Lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and other rechargeable batteries
So if you can’t put any of this in your trash or recycling, what can you do with it? The city offers “special item pickups” at an extra charge. For free dropoff – batteries can be taken to the nearby South Transfer Station; this lookup also shows dropoffs at Junction True Value and The Home Depot. For electronics, free dropoff events are coming up in West Seattle this spring (more details when they get closer). There are private services such as Ridwell, too.
When Seattle City Light cleared its former substation/future EV-charging site in Morgan Junction, community advocates worried aloud that it would become a vacant eyesore for however much ensuing time it remained vacant, awaiting construction. Those concerns became reality as the cloth draping on the fencing around the site (4118 SW Morgan), which is bordered by two major streets (Fauntleroy and Morgan), has been repeatedly vandalized by taggers (it’s even visible via a Google Street View image from a year ago). When SCL reps came to last week’s Morgan Community Association meeting with a project update – bottom line, as reported here, the site won’t be open for at least a year – MoCA president Deb Barker asked the reps in attendance if SCL would clean up the tagging; the rep wouldn’t commit to that, and suggested the vandalism would probably stop when the site is “activated” (built). So we followed up with SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang to ask if it were really true that the utility had no intention of cleaning up the fencing. She replied that it’s actually not needed any more anyway, so they’ll just remove it: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The mesh barrier that has been tagged is no longer required and we have requested that it be removed. A timeline for the removal will be available after a work order has been generated.”
Thanks to Zach and Avery for the reports about a water break on SW 106th in Arbor Heights. Seattle Public Utilities‘ water-problem map says about 15 homes were without water for an hour-plus but that it’s restored now. Others may have, or have had, discolored water as a result.
Puget Sound Energy provides natural-gas service in our area (and electricity in many other areas outside Seattle). If you’re a customer, you probably got an email alert tonight, requesting conservation and saying in part:
This evening, we’re asking customers to set their thermostats at a lower setting and limit the use of hot water, such as dishwashing or clothes washing, dryers and other appliances.
What the notice didn’t mention is that a major gas-storage facility operated by PSE suffered an outage earlier today – Jackson Prairie Underground Natural Gas Storage Facility in Lewis County. After seeing this report, and a PSE quote here, we contacted the utility and received the same statement:
Jackson Prairie went offline around 2 p.m. today. It has steadily been coming back on since then.
Puget Sound Energy is asking customers to conserve natural gas and electricity use through the evening hours. Due to the extreme cold temperatures facing our area, regional utilities are experiencing higher energy use than forecasted, and we need to reduce strain on the grid.
PSE has not yet commented on what caused the facility to go offline.
Lowland snow? Maybe. Sub-freezing cold? Definitely. That’s the current forecast for what’s on the way. Starting tomorrow night, temperatures will drop below freezing, with daytime highs in the 20s on Friday and Saturday, overnight lows as cold as the upper teens on Friday and Saturday nights. So Seattle Public Utilities – which handles water service among other things – wants you to be ready. Today SPU invited media crews to a home in Seaview for demonstrations on simple steps you can take – like protecting outdoor faucets:
In our photo is SPU’s Sabrina Clark-Bentley, who showed options for that – either a foam cover you can buy, or a DIY wrap with an old sock or towel, plastic bags, and tape:
Inside, SPU recommends turning on a faucet to a “slow drip” when it’s below freezing, so water keeps flowing in your pipes to reduce the chance of a break. In your kitchen, if your sink is against an exterior wall, open the doors beneath it to bring in warmer air:
And know where your water shutoff is, in case you need it. Other things to consider before the cold wave hits – storm-drain clearing. That’s part of what we discussed in a brief interview with SPU’s emergency-management program manager Chad Buechler:
Again, the number he mentioned for SPU-related emergencies, like water breaks and clogged street drains, is 206-386-1800 (same one we often mention for brown water).
In case you forgot, if you have solid waste pickup service via Seattle Public Utilities, the schedule is on one-day delay this week and next week, since there are no pickups on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. And starting today, pickup crews will take your Christmas trees and/or holiday greens – here’s the SPU how-to:
Customers can compost trees and holiday greens for free from December 26 – January 31. Customers should remove all decorations, cut the tree into sections – 4-foot or less – and place tree sections or bundled greens next to their food & yard waste cart on their regular collection day. Apartment residents may place up to two trees next to each food & yard waste cart at no charge (SPU recommends customers reach out to their property manager about their collection day and when to set out their tree). Customers can also drop off up to 3 trees less than 8 feet in length at a Transfer Station.
For more details and to find out what to do with your holiday items once you’re done with them, check out SPU’s lookup tool at seattle.gov/utilities/WhereDoesItGo.
A white Christmas is looking unlikely. But your solid-waste pickup dates will be shifting next week and the week after because of the holidays, whatever the weather, if you’re a Seattle Public Utilities customer. No pickup on the next two Mondays – Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – so everyone will shift a day later both weeks – Monday customers get Tuesday pickup, Tuesday customers get Wednesday pickup, Wednesday customers on Thursday, Thursday customers on Friday, Friday customers on Saturday. Then the week of January 8th, everything goes back to normal. SPU also reminds you that it’ll le.take trees and holiday greens for free December 26th through January 31st – guidelines are here (along with charts detailing the temporary pickup-day changes).
Almost three months after the city asked people to use less water, the reservoirs are finally back to normal or near-normal, according to an announcement this morning from Seattle Public Utilities. This of course is thanks to not only reduced water use but also above-average fall rain (with scenes like the Lincoln Park “waterfall” in video from last Tuesday) – this month is at more than triple the average so far, and rain since October 1st is three inches above normal, though rain since January 1st remains two inches below normal. The city says the Cedar Reservoir is back to normal; the South Fork Tolt Reservoir is not, but they think it will be within a few months. Saving water is still a good thing, SPU says, so you can go here for advice on that. When the city asked customers to use less water, usage totaled 149 million gallons a day, and SPU set a goal of cutting that by a third, to 100 million gallons a day; archived updates say the usage almost reached that goal, bottoming out at 101 million gallons a day.
If you run, walk, or ride along Alki, you’ve probably seen the recently completed “Tracing Alki” public art at newly overhauled Pump Station 38. The artist, Sarah Thompson Moore, is there until noon to answer questions about it. It’s inspired by old topographical maps of the area and spans the site (1400 block Alki Avenue SW) from the cabinet in the photo to the newly installed safety rail. The concept was announced in 2020, as Seattle Public Utilities prepared for the pump-station renovation.
9:55 AM: West Seattle escaped major power outages when the wind swept through for a few hours this morning – but there is one 27-customer outage on the Seattle City Light map, and that tree is the reason. Thanks to David for sending the photo and reporting, “We didn’t totally escape unscathed from last night’s wind storm. The wind knocked down a tree in the back of the apartments at 5220 California at around 3 am. So far that building and the ones behind it are out of power – no word from SFD or SCL on when they are coming to address the downed power lines.” Let us know if you are seeing any other storm damage – here in Upper Fauntleroy, a tree-sized branch came off a big evergreen, but landed harmlessly on an unoccupied planting strip. As for the weather, partly sunny and calm right now, but more major rain is on the way by tomorrow.
1:10 PM: That outage is fixed. But it wasn’t the only big tree brought down early today:
That photo is from Seaview resident Kaci, who says, “We lost a big beautiful Aspen tree during the windstorm last night. It fell at about 3 am. No major damage to our house except our rain gutters. Our catio didn’t fare so well.”
4:55 PM: A commenter notes that the first situation isn’t entirely resolved, and indeed, a new marker on the outage map shows that.
1:15 PM: Jay says the water is back on. SPU tells us the leak was in an 8-inch cast iron distribution main but they don’t know what caused it.