West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to the texter who just told us about discolored water near 40th/Oregon. They’ve contacted Seattle Public Utilities – 206-386-1800 if this happens to you – and they aren’t working any breaks at the moment (none on the SPU map either), so they speculated it might be Seattle Fire Department hydrant testing. Tests, breaks, or other unusual demands on the system can stir up sediment in the lines, usually rust.
10:06 AM: Thanks for the tip. Power is out for 122 customers southeast of The Junction, centered near Fauntleroy/Edmunds, according to the Seattle City Light outage map. SCL attributes it to “bird/animal”; a squirrel, to be specific, reports a texter.
2 PM: According to commenter Lauren, power came back on just after noon.
As reported here Thursday, Seattle City Light has confirmed the locations of 31 new on-street electric-vehicle-charging stations around the city, including five in West Seattle. A few questions arose, and we took them to SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang. First – a clarification: The one location we hadn’t already reported, the 6000 block of 16th SW, is not actually on the South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) campus – Strang says it will be on the “west side of 16th Ave SW, opposite the South Seattle College campus. It will be located near the walkway leading to the Duwamish Cohousing complex.” Readers, meantime, asked what’s being done to deter thieves from hitting the new chargers’ cords, as they have with others. Strang says, “The curbside Level 2 chargers have charging cables that automatically retract.” And that led t the question, what’s going on with the still-not-back-in-service chargers on 39th SW south of West Seattle Bowl? Strang explains, “In early March we installed two cables on the chargers at 4535 39th Ave SW, and our technician was unable to get the chargers to deliver a successful charge. Following various attempts to troubleshoot the issue with the manufacturer, it was determined additional parts are needed. We are waiting on the delivery of parts to continue troubleshooting the issue with the 39th Ave SW chargers and to complete repairs on the other chargers that had cables stolen.”
One month ago, we reported four locations where Seattle City Light had applied for permits to install EV chargers in public parking spaces. Today, SCL released its list of 31 installation locations citywide, including those four in West Seattle, plus a fifth, South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). SCL’s announcement notes the 31 sites were chosen by a panel from SCL and SDOT who reviewed 1,800 community requests received last year, reviewed by a panel from SCL and SDOT. Construction is expected to start soon and SCL believes half of the stations will be ready by the end of May, the rest by the end of summer. The announcement notes, “Each charging site was designed based on its own individual location with 12 planned to be installed on wood poles, 6 on new steel poles, and 13 sites installed on stand-alone pedestals” like the one in the SCL photo above. The full list of West Seattle sites:
4800 block California Ave SW
2100 block California Ave SW
6000 block 16th Ave SW
4800 block Fauntleroy Way SW
7000 block 17th Ave SW
SCL will charge its standard Level 2 charger rates, currently $0.21 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is three miles worth of power for the average EV, the utility says.
Replacement work is wrapping up for the two-foot-wide, century-old water main that ruptured – explosively – near Longfellow Creek last August. The work that started in November at 24th/Kenyon will be complete in April, according to a Seattle Public Utilities update that explains why it’s taken so long:
Over the past few months, the contractor has installed a new pipe that will replace the damaged portion of the water main. This work required the contractor to drill a tunnel under SW Kenyon St and Longfellow Creek and then pull 700 feet of new pipe into place through this tunneled area. This drilling work took longer than anticipated due to technical challenges and procurement delays during the drilling process. … Now that the new pipe is in place, crews will test the pipe to ensure that it is functioning properly. After these tests are complete, crews will attach the new pipe to the existing water main and complete pavement and landscape restoration at the site.
While SPU has not said that the two are linked, the break came during work on another project nearby. That will start back up after the pipe replacement is complete: “Once the water main repair work is finished, work will resume on the natural drainage systems and pedestrian bridge for the Longfellow Natural Drainage System (NDS) project. All work at the site is anticipated to be complete in fall 2023.”
11:28 AM: Thanks to Jan for that photo of water on the street last night by the Pump Station 38 project in the 1400 block of Alki Avenue SW. Seattle Public Utilities says a 20-inch water main has broken and crews are on scene for repairs, which will require excavation, so that may limit traffic through the area to one lane at times. SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register says they hope to finish repairs by 5 pm; about 60 customers (including apartment/condo complexes) are without water in the meantime. This is the fifth water-main break in West Seattle in two weeks (here’s our followup on the first four). We’re asking on followup whether it’s related to the pump-station work.
12:13 PM: “We do believe it’s related given the proximity,” Register replied.
3:33 PM: As noted in comments, and on the SPU map, water service is restored.
The pump-station project in the 1400 block of Alki Avenue SW isn’t going to be done in spring after all, Seattle Public Utilities says. In their latest progress report for the Pump Station 38 project, SPU says, “Due to significant procurement delays, the work is tentatively scheduled to be completed this summer.” The project’s last phase in the next few months will include finishing electrical work, installing irrigation and planting landscaping, and the art project detailed here, involing “pouring decorative litho-mosaic concrete artwork.” The Pump Station 38 project is intended to upgrade the station, which SPU says has been handling “a significant increase in flows” in recent years. The work was originally expected to start in early 2021 and be done in early 2022.
(WSB photo, Sunday in Sunrise Heights)
After two more water-main breaks in West Seattle on Sunday and Monday, following the two on Thursday, we had a few followup questions for Seattle Public Utilities. Here’s the reply we received today from SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register, incorporating answers to our questions:
While we don’t know the cause of the water main breaks on 100th SW (Monday) and 29th SW (Sunday), they are likely not related to the two water main breaks that occurred last Thursday, March 2. The above-mentioned locations are in different pressure zones than last week’s breaks.
With regard to the two leak locations Sunday and Monday:
29th SW – installed 1945 – Cast Iron – 585 pressure zone*
100th SW- installed 1938 – Cast Iron – 585 pressure zone
We tend to experience more water main breaks whenever we have cold weather, dipping below freezing or near freezing. Pipes are carrying very cold water, and the ground freezing around the pipes can play a role. The contraction and expansion of pipes during cold weather can cause pipes to break.
To give context to the number and location of water main breaks around Seattle, in the past month Seattle Public Utilities has investigated and/or repaired nine leaks in Seattle south of Denny and 12 leaks investigated and/or repaired north of Denny.
SPU’s rate of breaks is currently about 7-9 breaks per 100 miles of pipe per year. While there isn’t an “industry standard” threshold for water main breaks, utilities generally consider below 15-20 main breaks per 100 miles of pipe per year as an acceptable rate.
(*Pressure zone: “A water system subsection operating from sources at a common hydraulic elevation.”)
We also asked about some big-picture info, such as plans for updating the city’s aging pipes – there’s some overview info here and a project list here, though nothing currently planned in our area; for the really big picture, the water-system plan is linked here, and Register recommends Volume 1, Chapter 5 (we’ll be reading that eventually for another followup).
Thanks for the texted tip. For the fourth time in four days, a West Seattle water main has ruptured. This time it’s in Arbor Heights, in the 3700 block of SW 100th. Seattle Public Utilities says more than 50 customers are affected. This follows a Sunday break in Sunrise Heights and two breaks Thursday in Fauntleroy (the second of those was caused by the first, according to SPU). More info when we get it.
For the second time in three days, Seattle Public Utilities crews are working on a water-main break in West Seattle. After a texted tip (thank you!), we went over to 29th SW just north of SW Othello [map], where the street is blocked by repair crews. It’s been three days since two breaks in Fauntleroy (the second one was caused by the first, SPU says). The utility’s water-outage map says this is affecting at least 69 customers (homes/businesses); as seen in past cases, water-main breaks may also have effects beyond the immediate zone, so if you’re seeing discolored water, it might be related.
Thursday’s first Fauntleroy water break, on 46th SW south of Wildwood, caused the second, in the 9200 block of Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle Public Utilities confirmed to WSB tonight. “Over-pressurization of the zone” broke the second line, according to the utility. But SPU still doesn’t know what caused the first break. The utility believes four homes had flooded basements as a result of the water flow – this is one of the photos Catherine sent us last night:
Breaks usually lead to discussion of aging infrastructure, so we also asked SPU how old the broken mains were. The one on 46th, 8 inches wide, dates back to 1950; the Fauntleroy line, 4 inches wide, has been in service since 1930. Both are now repaired.
(WSB photos/video unless otherwise credited)
That’s the city’s newest surveillance camera. It’s just been installed high on a pole overlooking this stretch of Detroit Avenue SW [map] in southeast West Seattle.
That area between industrial businesses and a greenbelt is so notorious for illegal dumping, Seattle Public Utilities says, they’ve recovered thousands of tires and even this boat:
(Seattle Public Utilities photo)
So they’re trying something new – a motion-activated camera that will play this warning message when set off and will then photograph potential illegal dumpers:
We talked at the site with SPU’s Clean City division director Lee Momon, about why this spot was chosen and what happens to people caught by the camera, among other things:
Illegal dumping totaled more than (corrected) 1.9 million pounds last year alone, SPU says, resulting in that $1.7 million cost that Momon mentioned. If someone is caught and identified via the camera (which cost $9,000), they’ll “reach out and inform them about the violation and find a resolution (that) could involve cleaning fees, violation fees, or community service.”
You can report illegal dumping on public property any time via Find It Fix It, via the form linked here (where you’ll also see a map of currently reported dumping sites), or by calling 206-684-7587.
(WSB photos unless otherwise credited)
4:05 PM: SFD is on the scene of what’s described as a water-main break in Fauntleroy, just west of the Endolyne business district, in the 9200 block of 46th SW. We’ve also received a report of discolored water in Morgan Junction.
We’re on the way to find out more.
4:29 PM: Adding photos. SFD and SPU are on the scene of the break. Water in the street is subsiding. Meantime, our texter from Morgan Junction called SPU (reminder: any water problem, call 206-386-1800) and said they indeed attributed it to a break. The discoloration, as is usual in these cases, is because of sediment – usually rust – getting stirred up in the line when there’s a problem.
5:36 PM: SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register tells us the break involves “some broken pipe” and continues, “Customers on 46th Ave SW between SW Wildwood Place and SW Brace Front Drive may be temporarily without water. We are working to excavate the location of the break for repair. It’s unknown how many customers are affected or the extent of any possible damage to a few homes in the area.” That damage includes some basement flooding – here’s a photo Catherine sent:
Catherine says she’s “downhill” from the break site.
9:21 PM: Update from SPU – since the first break, which involved an 8-inch pipe, there’s been a second one in the 9300 block of Fauntleroy Way SW, just a few blocks west. SPU says both should be repaired, with service restored, by morning. Regarding the first break, SPU’s update says, “Some customers may have experienced higher than normal water pressure during the break. The break was horizontal, which typically releases more water compared to a vertical break.”
(RainWise photo: Fauntleroy Schoolhouse rain garden)
Got room for a rain garden? A site for a cistern? You might be eligible for RainWise rebates to help you get them, depending on where you live, because they’re returning to some West Seattle neighborhoods. Here are the details sent to us to share with you:
RainWise, a partnership between King County Wastewater Treatment Division and Seattle Public Utilities, has a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
The West Seattle neighborhoods around Sunrise Heights, Westwood, Fauntleroy, and Arbor Heights are eligible for RainWise rebates – again!
In 2013, King County joined the RainWise program, and parts of West Seattle became eligible for rebates that pay for rain gardens and cisterns on private properties. By capturing the rain that falls on roofs, these installations help keep stormwater out of the sewer system and prevent overflows at the Barton Pump Station near the Fauntleroy ferry dock. After five years in the program, almost 150 properties put in rain gardens and cisterns that manage the equivalent of rain falling on five acres of roofs. In addition, 15 blocks of highly engineered roadside rain gardens were put in to let rain washing down streets and sidewalks to soak into the ground. All of this has really helped but as we look to a future of heavy rains and atmospheric rivers, we would love more help to manage the rain in this area.
How does RainWise help? During heavy rains, the sheer volume of polluted stormwater can cause our combined sewers to overflow. This negatively impacts human health and the health of marine life, such as salmon and orcas. We can reduce this water pollution by installing green stormwater infrastructure solutions, such as rain gardens and cisterns. This is where RainWise comes in.
What is RainWise? RainWise is a rebate program jointly run by King County Wastewater Treatment Division and Seattle Public Utilities. RainWise rebates help property owners manage the rain by installing cisterns and/or rain gardens on their private property. This not only helps reduce stormwater pollution, but mitigates flooding, adds attractive landscaping, and can provide water for summer irrigation.
You can check your eligibility for rebates at 700milliongallons.org/rainwise/eligibility. And, for addresses not eligible for RainWise, Green Stormwater Mini-Grants are available as well at 12000raingardens.org/gsi-mini-grants.
To find out more, please attend one of our upcoming events to talk with program staff and RainWise contractors. We are excited about being back in this area and look forward to helping you get started on your RainWise project!
How to Get RainWise Workshop
Attend this in-person workshop to learn about the program with a short presentation followed by a Q&A with staff and RainWise contractors.
Wednesday, March 1st, 6 – 7:15 pm
Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, 9131 California Ave SW
Register at RWworkshop1.eventbrite.com
Join RainWise at West Seattle Nursery
Come visit our table while you shop for your garden!
Saturday, March 4th, 10 am – 12 pm
Saturday, April 8th, 10 am – 12 pm
West Seattle Nursery, 5275 California Ave SW
How to Get RainWise Webinar
Attend this online webinar and watch a short presentation followed by a Q&A with staff and a local homeowner.
Thursday, March 16th, 5 – 6 pm
Register at bit.ly/mar16RW
Edible Landscapes with RainWise Webinar
Attend this online webinar to learn how edible rain gardens offer a green solution to pollution. There will be a short presentation followed by a Q&A with staff and gardening experts.
Tuesday, April 11th, 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Register at bit.ly/ediblewebinar
(RainWise photo, cisterns at Peace Lutheran Church)
RainWise Garden Celebration at Peace Lutheran Church
Come to our RainWise Garden Celebration where you can talk to an array of RainWise, sustainability, and garden experts to learn about the program. There will be tours of Peace Lutheran’s RainWise installation, refreshments, and activities. This is a family-friendly event!
Saturday, April 22nd, 10 am – 1 pm
Peace Lutheran Church, 8316 39th Ave SW
Register at raingardencelebration.eventbrite.com
Not eligible? Feel free to reach out to us! We are happy to help provide you with resources. Check out 12000raingardens.org/about-rain-gardens/incentives to see what other programs are available to you.
Contact us for questions, comments, and concerns at email@example.com.
For more info about RainWise, visit 700milliongallons.org/rainwise
5:20 PM: Thanks for the tips. As of about half an hour ago, Seattle Public Utilities is handling a water problem on Puget Ridge. It’s centered near 17th/Myrtle, according to SPU’s map. Though the map also projects a restoration time of 10 pm, we offer the same caveat as in power outages – those estimates are really just guesses, so could be much sooner or much later. If you’re having trouble and you’re not in the area shown on the map, call SPU at 206-386-1800 and be sure they know you’re affected too.
7:39 PM: We went to Puget Ridge and tried to find any SPU crews working around 17th/Myrtle; no luck. Water in the street, more than would be residual from the last round of rain, was in evidence on Myrtle between 16th and 17th, though.
(WSB photo, Wednesday, Cove Park entrance)
Just in – the King County Wastewater Treatment Division says Fauntleroy beaches have reopened “after water quality testing over consecutive days showed safe results.” As reported here Wednesday morning, the beaches were closed because of two overflows blamed on power anomalies at the county-operated Barton Pump Station during Monday night’s thunderstorm. KCWTD says the 101,100 gallons of wastewater that overflowed was “safely routed into a pipe that empties into Puget Sound about 600 feet offshore.” It’s working to figure out how to keep this kind of problem from happening again, noting “While the pump station is equipped with an automatic backup generator, the facility did not experience a complete power outage that would have activated the backup system. Wastewater engineers are researching ways to mitigate the effects of poor power quality, including power sags, bumps or surges on pumps, which are designed to shut down when encountering inconsistent power.”
Those are the city-owned electric-vehicle chargers on 39th SW in The Junction, by Spruce and West Seattle Bowl. As reported here last month, vandals/thieves have left both inoperable, and they’re not fixed yet. We asked Seattle City Light spokesperson Jenn Strang about its status; she says, “We plan to repair all of the recently damaged chargers. Unfortunately, there are supply-chain disruptions in purchasing the replacement charging cables that have caused some delays, but we expect to begin repairs on the 39th Ave SW chargers this month.”
We also asked her about permit applications we’ve seen in the city’s online files for publicly owned chargers on the street in several West Seattle areas. According to Strang, “That is part of Seattle City Light’s new Curbside Level 2 EV Charging pilot project. We received 1,800 requests through public process and evaluated each based on pre-defined criteria designed to select locations that will serve the greatest number of customers and best achieve the City’s equity and environmental goals. The chargers will be owned and operated by City Light and will be available for use by the public. We expect to begin construction in late March and to have all locations operational by summer. The complete list of locations will be announced soon.” So far we’ve found permit applications for four West Seattle public-charger locations: 2100 California SW, 4830 Fauntleroy Way SW, 4850 California SW, and 7015 17th SW.
(Screengrab from Seattle City Light outage map)
10:17 AM: Thanks for the tip. A power outage is affecting the Jefferson Square vicinity. A texter says Safeway is closed and Bartell Drugs is cash-only right now. No word so far on the cause; the Seattle City Light map says it started around 9 am.
11:14 AM: The map doesn’t reflect it but the J-Square businesses all appear to have power now.
12:31 PM: Partial power, per commenters.
4:55 PM: The outage has vanished from the map since our last check. We’ll be asking SCL tomorrow about the cause.
ADDED 11:06 AM MONDAY: SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang tells WSB the cause of the outage was a “fuse, which was eventually replaced.”
2:52 PM: After another burst of wind gusts, the power’s out for some in West Seattle. So far we’re hearing from the Admiral area. (Our lights flickered here in the south but the power’s still on.) Not yet mapped. Updates to come,
2:54 PM: Now it’s mapped. 3,292 customers in northeast West Seattle – part of Delridge, too. … Note that you’ll hear sirens because power outages tend to set off some automatic fire alarms and strand people in elevators, and SFD has to respond to those calls. (Added – Reader photo of Ladder 13 at Salty’s on Alki [WSB sponsor] for an elevator rescue:)
3:03 PM: Note that some businesses are affected as well as signalized intersections (that means the latter are all all-ways stops). … Another standard reminder: The “estimated restoration time” on the SCL map is absolutely meaningless – power could be back in five minutes or five hours. Commenters in North Delridge report hearing the type of noise pre-outage that suggests tree vs. wire but no specific reports yet – if you see City Light crews at work, let us know!
3:34 PM: Outage is down to 1,310 customers, per SCL map:
3:58 PM: The “elevator rescue” calls are all resolved now, but at one point both West Seattle ladder trucks were busy with them, so a third truck – Ladder 1, based at Station 10 in the International District – had to be called over. Here’s a texted reader photo of its response at 1661 Alki SW:
4:09 PM: From SCL: “The current West Seattle outage was caused by a tree coming down onto wires in the vicinity of 26th and Nevada.” … We don’t have specifics on this tree but if you know of a tree that appears to be a threat to power stability, SCL does have a form you can use to report it – find it here.
4:38 PM: Commenters report SCL is working at 28th/Nevada. Here’s a photo from Chris:
4:58 PM: The outage has disappeared from the map, which means everybody should be back on now.
Just texted to us – at least two neighbors in Seaview are seeing “brown water and air in pipes.” If this is happening to you too, be sure to notify Seattle Public Utilities at 206-386-1800. Advice for dealing with discolored water – including, don’t do laundry till it clears up! – is here.
11:45 AM: Alex suggested other West Seattle neighbors headed east today might want to know that a big power outage in Georgetown, SODO, and Beacon Hill is affecting some businesses and major intersections. If you’re planning to head that way, check the map first.
1:51 PM: Most of the outage area has power back, except (mostly) for the SODO customers with a planned outage as noted by Amy in comments.
2:23 PM: Thanks for the tips. 280 Seattle City Light customers in the south Alki area are without power right now. The SCL outage map shows it went out just before 2 pm. One person who contacted us reported hearing a “boom” just before losing power. No word yet on the cause. – the SFD 911 log shows no incidents in the area.
3:11 PM: The outage map now attributes this to “bird/animal contact.”
4:08 PM: Power’s back.
9:04 PM: Thanks to Maureen for the info: She reports “orange/brown water out of our cold-water faucets” near Admiral Way/59th. Any time you notice discolored water, report it to Seattle Public Utilities at 206-386-1800, which she’s doing now, and let us know too – back in 2016, it happened in so many areas, SPU eventually carried out a large-scale flush of water lines around the peninsula.
9:47 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s added comments about what they’re seeing/hearing. Here’s the SPU page about discolored (and otherwise problematic) water.
ADDED TUESDAY EVENING: SPU says they haven’t figured out the cause but they heard from 21 customers between 8 last night and 9:30 this morning. The water should have cleared up by now – let them know if it hasn’t.
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