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WATER: Another big flush ahead, this time for southeast West Seattle and South Park

Back in 2016, after repeated problems with “brown water” in multiple West Seattle neighborhoods, Seattle Public Utilities carried out a major flush of local lines. Now they’re planning one for southeast West Seattle and South Park, in the areas outlined on this map:

That map is included in a letter SPU has just mailed to affected residents and businesses, saying the flush will start soon and continue into next year. Here’s what else the letter says:

SPU is performing this work to help maintain water quality and help reduce the occurrence of discolored water that can sometimes occur. Flushing won’t eliminate discolored water, but it will help decrease it.

What do customers need to do? SPU crews will perform the flushing at night by flowing water from fire hydrants. Residents and businesses do not need to take any action to prepare for this work. Customers will be able to use their water as usual. When crews are flushing nearby, customers may notice a slight reduction in their water pressure. They may also experience temporary discolored water, which should clear quickly once crews are done flushing the water main. Running the cold water for a few minutes can also help clear the discoloration.

Why does discolored water occur? Discolored water can happen when crews operate a fire hydrant, when there is a water main break or leak, or when the water in the pipes is forced to travel in a different direction than normal. When one of these events happens, sediment in the water and rust in the pipes get stirred up, causing the water to look discolored. Flushing the water mains will remove some of the sediment and rust that has been resting in the pipes. This will help reduce the level of discoloration and the time it takes for the water to clear when there’s a disturbance in the pipes.

Is the water safe? Yes. Every single day, SPU takes samples throughout the drinking water system that serves 1.5 million people. The water is tested for contaminants and is regulated by the Washington State Department of Health. Seattle’s water remains safe to drink.

See the full letter here.

UPDATE: Power outage in Gatewood

8:44 PM: Though it still isn’t showing up on the Seattle City Light map, we’ve heard from several people about an outage in Gatewood. We’re told it started more than an hour ago. (One location mentioned: 4000 block of SW Webster.) No indication of the cause, though of course it’s been a day and night of feisty weather. So for now, we’re just noting it for the record. Side note: Checking on this, we discovered the City Light outage map has undergone something of an overhaul sometime in the past week or so – mostly some visual changes to the same basic info it’s long offered.

8:56 PM: Via Twitter, one person affected says crews were out working on “a blown transformer” and that they hoped to have power restored in four to six hours.

FOLLOWUP: What caused the Lincoln Park sewage leak

1:28 PM: Here’s what more we’ve found out about the Lincoln Park sewage/wastewater leak first reported here Sunday afternoon. King County Wastewater Treatment Division spokesperson Marie Fiore says it was not a broken pipe but a malfunctioning valve in an underground vault along the line. Since the county’s Barton Pump Station pumps “intermittently,” the leak wasn’t major, she said – the wastewater (combined sewage/stormwater) that had spilled into the vault has been removed with suction equipment, and repairs are complete. Since an undetermined amount of wastewater did make it onto the beach and into Puget Sound, they’ll keep the beach closed as a precaution while they test the water to be sure it’s safe. We asked if the valve that malfunctioned was part of what was replaced in that area in 2006 or was part of the 2015 pump-station upgrade; Fiore is checking on that. She did say the vault is inspected multiple times per month, most recently November 15th.

7:59 PM: Fiore confirms that the “force main” in that area was replaced in 2006; what malfunctioned in this situation was “an air valve” which was replaced as part of the repairs done Sunday.

UPDATE: Sewage leak closes Lincoln Park beach

3:25 PM: Thanks for sending the tips and photo. A crew is working along the Lincoln Park beachfront trail, with signage warning that the problem involves “raw sewage.” We have inquiries out to try to find out what happened.

4:34 PM: Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Sabrina Register tells WSB it’s a King Cpunty Wastewater Treatment issue – SPU “responded to the overflow earlier today and checked all of our assets in and around pump station 42, and crews did not find any issues. We are working with our County partners as they take over the response and regulatory reporting.” So now we’re checking with KCWTD.

6:30 PM: We talked briefly with KCWTD spokesperson Marie Fiore, who said the problem was with the Barton Pump Station (north of the ferry dock) but she was still awaiting more information on what exactly had happened.

10:08 PM: No additional major details but KCWTD just sent a statement:

King County Wastewater Treatment Division workers quickly responded to a combined sewer leak on Sunday afternoon. Seattle Public Utilities, who had initially responded to the issue, alerted county staff. The leak caused a combination of stormwater and wastewater to enter the beach at Lincoln Park, along a public trail. 

A King County wastewater crew responding to the incident was able to locate the breach in the line and begin temporary repairs to stop the leak. Crews also began cleanup efforts and will post additional caution/closure signs.

King County reported the overflow to health and regulatory agencies and will begin water quality testing near Lincoln Park Beach and the Barton Pump Station. The beach is expected to be closed until several days of water testing confirm the water is safe.

UPDATE: Power outage for almost 5,000 customers in West Seattle; bird found in downed wires

2:42 AM: Thanks for the tips. Still awaiting the full extent of an outage that appears to be centered in the Fauntleroy area. We don’t know the cause yet, but police were just dispatched to check out an Upper Fauntleroy resident’s report of flashes at about that time. Another dispatch says it’s a possible problem around 45th/Wildwood. Updates to come.

2:47 AM: Almost 5,000 customers per update on City Light‘s map. A member of our Upper Fauntleroy household with a west-facing window also reports seeing the flashes (we didn’t lose power, though). Added a screengrab from the outage map – broadly described, this is mostly west of 35th SW, from Seaview south to Brace Point.

3:05 AM: Now our standard reminder that City Light’s “estimated time of restoration” is always just a guesstimate and often changes, so don’t take much stock in it. No further info so far. The map suggests some signalized intersections, like California/Morgan, are affected; if you have to go out, remember that if a signal’s out, that means the intersection is a four-way stop.

3:32 AM: One hour now since the outage started. SCL has tweeted an important reminder, especially considering many refrigerators are full of holiday food: Don’t open your fridge/freezer.

4:32 AM: Two hours now. Nothing new to report.

5:59 AM: Some commenters report restoration moments ago. … The map says 3,100+ are still out.

6:59 AM: All but 364 customers now have power back.

City Light spokesperson Jenn Strang tells WSB, “Most customers except for a small pocket around the immediate vicinity will be restored momentarily. A larger crew will be coming to make further repairs this morning. As of right now, we only know that this is a result of a wire coming down but we don’t have the exact cause. We hope to know more later.”

10:24 AM: After almost eight hours, those last 300+ customers are still out. A reader texted this photo of where the SCL crew is working:

That’s near Wildwood Market.

11:47 AM: The crews are still on scene, Meantime, the outage map has updated to attribute this to “bird/animal contact,” and a commenter says it appears to have been a Great Blue Heron.

12 PM: SCL’s Strang says crews did find that bird in the outage area. Meantime, for anyone still out, she says it shouldn’t be too much longer.

12:10 PM: And SCL says everybody’s back on.

UPDATE: Alki power outage

3:32 PM: Thanks for the tip. 14 Seattle City Light customers near 57th/Alki have been out of power for going on an hour now. The outage map does not yet indicate a cause; we’re asking SCL.

5:04 PM: No reply from SCL yet but the map now attributes the outage to “equipment failure.”

PUMP-STATION PROJECT: Alki lane closure ahead

(Seattle Public Utilities photo)

Four months into the waterfront Alki Pump Station 38 project in the 1400 block of Alki Avenue SW, Seattle Public Utilities has provided a progress report. So far its contractor has:

-Completed the demolition of old equipment and structural elements inside of the pump station
-Began installing ventilation structure and piping to connect to the sewer main in the street
-Put in grating to allow easier access for workers in the pump station

Up next, the contractor plans to:

-Pour concrete for new hatches that will provide access to the pump station
-Restore the street, tentatively scheduled for this winter
-Install decorative litho-mosaic concrete artwork, a new and exciting process for the City. This is the final stage of the project and is tentatively scheduled for spring.

We featured the art plan – which also will include a railing – here last year. In the near term, the update also says a “temporary lane closure of Alki Avenue SW” for up to four days is ahead, starting as soon as the Monday after Thanksgiving. Crews need to do this so they can install a sewer pipe related to the pump-station work. SPU says the lane closure will be only during daylight hours.

FYI: You can set out some extra yard waste at no extra cost this month

(WSB file photo)

Planning to go outside this no-rain-expected weekend and clear away some leaves (or catch up on other yard work)? Here’s the annual reminder – November is “free extra yard waste” month for city curbside-pickup customers. Each collection day through the end of the month, Seattle Public Utilities says, you can set out up to 10 extra bags/containers of yard waste.

UPDATE: Big West Seattle power outage hits 10,000+ homes, businesses, schools; tree limb blamed

1:09 PM: Power’s out for what appears to be a wide stretch – signals out along California as we drove north.

1:20 PM UPDATE: 10,000 customers (mostly) from the Junction north. No word yet on the cause.

1:35 PM: This hit just as we were heading out on an interview – the signal lights started going out all along California, from The Junction northward. Have made our way back now. Remember that any non-functioning signalized intersection is a four-way stop. Also note that if you’re hearing sirens – when the power goes out, some automatic fire alarms are triggered, and some elevators get stuck, and Seattle Fire crews have to respond to all of that.

1:47 PM: Note that schools and businesses are part of this sizable outage zone. … As you can see on the SCL map, the outage zone stretches some blocks south of The Junction in spots.

2:05 PM: This happened amid strong north winds, though we don’t have official word of a cause. As a result of the wind, the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s pm sailings have just been canceled.

2:09 PM: As noted in comments, a tree limb falling in North Admiral appears to be the problem.

2:19 PM: SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang confirms that’s the cause and tells WSB, “Crews are starting to work on the problem and we’ll start restoring customers as soon as we can.”

(Reader photo, from comments)

2:29 PM: We just talked to SCL crew at the scene. They say the fallen tree limb has been removed and now they’re doing some final work before determining how soon it’ll be safe to “re-energize.”

2:39 PM: Commenters are reporting getting power back, and the map shows more than half the originally affected 10,000+ customers (homes/businesses/schools etc. each count as one customer) are back on after an hour and a half.

3:09 PM: Now down to 2,637 customers still out.

4:20 PM: No change.

4:34 PM: Going back through The Junction, it appears the businesses on the west side of California are still without power, while those on the east side have it.

5:33 PM: Heading back south – west side of Junction still out. That includes ballot drop box area – no streetlights or lot lights – lots of foot and vehicle traffic – be careful!

5:40 PM: Power just returned to the west side of The Junction. … Map shows 108 still out.

8:58 PM: More than three hours later, that pocket of 108, mostly wrapped around the southwest corner of Camp Long, is still out.

1:08 AM: Down to 58 now, and attributed to “equipment failure” for this pocket:

2:52 AM: The map now shows everyone restored since our last check.

WATER WOES: Emergency repairs near Holy Family

November 7, 2022 1:34 pm
|    Comments Off on WATER WOES: Emergency repairs near Holy Family
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

Thanks to Lacey for the tip. More than three dozen customers are mapped as out of water at the moment, mostly along 18th SW just east of Holy Family Church/School. The outage is attributed to “emergency repairs.” Lacey says Seattle Public Utilities reported that crews are fixing a broken water main. Sometimes this kind of work can affect water service beyond the immediate outage zone, so if you’re anywhere near there and experiencing water problems, that could be the cause – but let 206-386-1800 know, just to be sure. (Update: SPU says this was fixed as of 3:10 pm.)

FOLLOWUP: Repairs to start for ruptured water main alongside Longfellow Creek

(August 15 photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)

Almost three months after that explosive water-main break alongside Longfellow Creek, a contractor for Seattle Public Utilities is about to start repair work. You’ll recall the rupture spurting water near 24th/Kenyon in mid-August and flooding at least half a dozen nearby apartments. SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register explains that “after the water main broke on August 15, SPU immediately set up a temporary system to provide water service to the three customers who had service lines connected to the portion of the pipe that broke. We also began working on a plan to make the complicated repair in the middle of Longfellow Creek with minimal disruption to the environment or people.” Now they’re ready to start work, as soon as Monday. They expect work to last about six weeks, “including mobilization and demobilization,” along SW Kenyon between 27th SW and Delridge Way SW. That means there’ll be some impacts during work hours – 7 am to 7 pm weekdays – to travel lanes on 27th, and they’ll have a flagger. Sidewalks might be affected too. Here’s the official construction notice. As for the line-break investigation, we’re still awaiting an answer to our followup question on what was found to be the cause.


6:40 PM: We haven’t heard yet from anyone who’s completely lost power, but many report flickers around the peninsula – from here in Upper Fauntleroy (multiple times over the span of a few minutes) to Puget Ridge. We’re monitoring …

7 PM: By now it seems safe to say that the flickering did NOT indicate a larger outage somewhere; the Seattle City Light map shows only a pocket of five customers along Myers Way in the unincorporated area.

UPDATE: Gas-leak response in The Triangle

6:10 PM: Eastbound SW Alaska is blocked just west of 35th SW by an SFD response for a gas leak – avoid the area.

6:33 PM: Thanks to Angelo for the photo and report that the leak is in an old clinic building on Alaska; Angelo called it in to 911.

7:05 PM: SFD has closed out the call.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s what SPU says caused brown water for some West Seattle customers

October 24, 2022 3:15 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Here’s what SPU says caused brown water for some West Seattle customers
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

On Friday and Sunday, we noted reader reports of brown water, mostly in – but not limited to – the Junction vicinity. The people we heard from didn’t get a clear explanation from Seattle Public Utilities, and no water break ever turned up on the SPU map. Today we checked back with SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register, and here’s what she has found out: “We believe it was the result of one of our water system pump stations being operated after a two month period being out of service for related construction work. We have taken the pump station offline while we develop a plan to restart it that will minimize water system disturbance and customers experiencing discolored water.” The “disturbance” usually refers to sediment – mostly rust from unlined cast-iron pipes – getting stirred up in the water pipes by unusual activity, from hydrant testing to water-main breaks. Back in the mid-2010s, brown water was happening so often that SPU did a large-scale “flush” in West Seattle. What’s important is to report discolored water when it happens – 206-386-1800 – so it’s on record with SPU (and let us know too because that way there’s a very public record). In the meantime, here’s the SPU advice on what to do in hopes it’ll clear your water. Discolored water is not necessarily a health risk but it can also discolor your laundry, for example.

More brown water reported in The Junction (and beyond)

Two days after reports of brown water in The Junction and Alki, it’s back, according to staff at Uptown Espresso (California/Edmunds), who say they’re closing early as a result and have heard of other businesses experiencing the problem. They’re on hold with Seattle Public Utilities at 206-386-1800 trying to report the problem. We have yet to get details from SPU on what exactly the problem was – one resident on Friday reported being told it was a break, but none ever appeared on the SPU water-outage map, and commenters said they were told it was related to “construction.”

ADDED: Carrie sent this photo of what turned up in her water:

We’ll be following up again with SPU on Monday.

UPDATE: Westwood-area power outage

3:07 PM: Thanks for the tip! Just before 3 pm, nearly 200 customers north of Westwood Village lost power, according to the Seattle City Light map. No word on the cause yet.

4:22 PM UPDATE: The number of customers still out is down to 144. The map now attributes the outage to “equipment failure.”

7:59 PM: The map is back to showing 191 out again.

Brown water in West Seattle

Just received two reports of discolored water today in West Seattle – one in Alki, one in The Junction. The person who texted the latter report said they had reported it to Seattle Public Utilities, which has just told them a water-main break is to blame – it’s not shown on the map yet, so we’re following up. If you are experiencing the problem, now or any other time, the SPU number to call is 206-386-1800 – that can help them figure out what’s happening and where. Here’s the general SPU advice about discolored water.

UPDATE: Water break in North Delridge

9:19 AM: Thanks for the tip. Seattle Public Utilities confirms a water break is affecting almost 100 customers in the North Delridge area this morning. It’s reported to be near Delridge/Hudson, and crews have been sent.They’re currently estimating it will take until early afternoon to fix.

10:52 AM: Went through the area a little while ago. Lots of water on the street (see photo above). This is adjacent to a construction site; vehicles on scene were marked as SPU and as a development firm.

FYI: Seattle City Light testing in West Seattle

Seattle City Light crews will be doing “contact voltage” testing in West Seattle over the next few weeks, SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang tells WSB. She explains, “This is an annual testing event for excess voltage and is conducted overnight. Contact voltage can occur on the surface of metal streetlight structures, street signs, or other fixtures that can become energized. There should be no disturbance to residents or businesses, but some people may notice the truck …” This is vital testing, as contact voltage can be deadly. You can find out more about this testing – and what to do if you suspect a contact-voltage problem – by going here.

FOLLOWUP: First phase of work soon at future electric-vehicle-charging site in Morgan Junction

(Early site plan)

We first reported back in March that a former Seattle City Light substation site in Morgan Junction was under consideration as a future electric-vehicle-charging site. SCL says the plan is now finalized and the first phase of work at the site is expected to start this weekend. The site is at 4118 SW Morgan, 4,520 square feet of land taken out of substation service back in 2014. Contaminated soil has to be removed from the site, and in order to do that, SCL says it has to remove trees and other vegetation, which is the work that’ll be done first. It’s explained in this letter sent to nearby residents/businesses. SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang says the trees will be replaced “two for one” as per city policy. Other landscaping will be done, she said, with a “pollinator aesthetic.” The charging site is planned for eight “fast chargers,” so up to eight vehicles could use it simultaneously (and they’ll be paying to use it). But even though the site prep is being done now, according to Strang, actual construction of the charging station isn’t expected before the middle of next year. The site will be fenced in the interim. You can read more about the project here; that page also has contact info if you have questions, and Strang says SCL will have a rep at next month’s Morgan Community Association meeting (October 19th) to talk about it.

FOLLOWUP: What caused weekend power outage in North Admiral

On Sunday we reported on a power outage that left 74 customers out of power for about eight hours in North Admiral. Today, we talked with Seattle City Light‘s Jenn Strang about what happened. Strang says it took longer to fix because the crew first had to sleuth what had gone wrong, and while the original suspicion was a “bad fuse,” it turned out to be a “failed underground elbow.” (An elbow is a type of onnector.) She added that underground problems are often tougher to trace than others.

UPDATE: North Admiral power outage

12:18 PM: Thanks for the tip. 74 customers have been without power since about 9 am in a residential North Admiral neighborhood. The Seattle City Light map doesn’t yet show the cause but the resident who tipped us says they heard what sounded like a transformer (or other equipment) explosion right before they lost power.

5:22 PM: Just got a text that the power’s been restored. Map never did indicate a cause, so we’ll follow up with SCL tomorrow.

UPDATE: 4,600+ lose power in West Seattle after suspected DUI driver hits pole on Admiral Way

1:40 AM: Seattle City Light map shows 4,600+ customers out of power in West Seattle. Possibly a driver vs. pole crash in west Admiral, per emergency radio. Updates to come.

1:50 AM: The crash is at 47th/Admiral. Police have just told dispatch they’re blocking Admiral both ways. They’re summoning City Light. … “The pole’s been completely disconnected. Wires everywhere,” officers radioed.

2:20 AM: Update on the closure zone, Admiral between 46th and 48th. Too soon to know how long it’ll take to restore power – the estimate that appears on the SCL map is always little more than a guess.

2:32 AM: Officers at the crash scene just told dispatch that SCL is there.

2:46 AM: Thanks to the commenters who provided photos of the scene. The one above is from SusanLP.

3:17 AM: As noted in comments, some have had power restored.

The SCL map shows 1,600+ still out – just about a third of the original number.

7:10 AM: 325 still without power.

9:27 AM: Those 325 are still out. City Light crews continue working at the scene.

(Thanks to Charlene for the photo)

9:48 AM: Police confirm to WSB that the driver who hit the pole was booked for investigation of DUI.

10:35 AM: Intersection’s still closed, with SCL still on scene.

1:26 PM: SCL reports everyone has their power back now. We’re headed over to check whether the intersection has reopened.

2 PM: It’s open.