Utilities 1010 results

UPDATE: Power outage in Brace Point area

10:06 PM: Thanks for the tip. 166 customers in the Endolyne/Brace Point area just lost power a few minutes ago. This is part of the area where a big Seattle City Light cable-replacement project is about to start, as we reported this morning. Updates to come.

11:55 PM: The outage map now blames this on “equipment failure.”

1:55 AM: Still out.

7:20 AM: Still out, and the SCL map shows the outage expanded to 336 customers – the size of at least two outages in that same area last year – early this morning.

FOLLOWUP: What’s planned as Seattle City Light’s Brace Point underground project gets going

(Seattle City Light photos of the type of construction work that’s planned)

Undergrounding electrical service doesn’t make it outage-proof. Residents in the Brace Point area south of Fauntleroy know that firsthand. After multiple outages, they’re about to get replacements for half-century-old underground infrastructure. We’ve reported on the long-planned project before; on Wednesday afternoon, Seattle City Light offered an online meeting for residents to get project details and ask questions. The meeting was scheduled for an hour but lasted only half that, adjourned when attendees ran out of questions.

Here are our toplines, starting with where the work will happen:

(You can see a slightly larger version of the map on the project website.) The contractor is Olson Brothers Excavating of Puyallup, awarded a $7 million contract for the project. Reps from both the contractor and SCL were at the meeting; they said the work will last “two to three years.” While some work was done to bolster underground cables with silicone injections a decade ago, it only worked on half the cables, so replacement is needed now. Other background:

The work involves trenching and will all be done in public right-of-way.

It was also made clear that the work only involves the city-owned system, no private connections to residences. Some outages will be needed, but those aren’t expected until later in the project, at least a year from now, and SCL promises there’ll be advance notice unless it’s an “emergency” outage. The outages, they promised, would last hours, not days, and would generally be in the daytime. (Same goes for the work hours – weekdays, 8-5, is the standard plan.)

Crews will be working in multiple areas concurrently; at day’s end, any trenching that hasn’t been filled (temporary fill will precede permanent fill) will be covered with steel plates.

So when and where will the work start? Preparation, such as surveying, is happening now. 47th SW is the first planned work location, according to the contractor. One resident voiced concern about access, and was assured that access will be maintained, and any road closures would be fleeting – “minutes” in duration. Residents with questions/problems during the construction can contact the contractor via communityoutreach@olsonbrothers.net.

One more note: SCL says it’ll link a recording of the Wednesday meeting on the project website soon.

UPDATE: West Seattle water-main break

9:20 AM: Thanks for the tips (and the texted photo) – another utility problem: A water break on 22nd SW between Trenton and Cloverdale. The Seattle Public Utilities water-outage map shows 60+ customers out while they make “emergency repairs.”

9:54 AM: We went to the repair scene to find out more. 22nd is closed between Trenton and Cloverdale; an on-scene supervisor says they’re replacing a 6′ section of water main that broke. Also, we were told, if your property has any damage as a result of this, contact matthew.garcia@seattle.gov.

2 PM: The break is repaired and water service restored, says Sabrina Register of SPU. She says it involved an 8-inch water main “but at this time, there’s no indication the cause is construction related. There’s quite a bit of construction happening nearby, but not on the street where the break occurred. The cause could be related to aging infrastructure.”

UPDATE: West Seattle power outage

8:19 AM: Thanks for the tips. Almost a thousand customers lost power in east West Seattle just before 8 am. The map shows most in Highland Park and Riverview, but also some out in west South Park.

8:30 AM: Chris says the signal lights at Olson/Myers are out.

9:58 AM: Julie Moore from SCL tells WSB they still haven’t figured out the cause; however, the map shows the number of customers out is down to 155.

11:16 AM: Texters say their power’s back. Meantime, the SCL map now attributes the outage to “equipment failure” (we’ll update when we get more specifics on what failed).

ADDED FRIDAY: According to Moore, “a tree fell and broke a cross arm on a pole” along 3rd SW near Westcrest Park.

Short-lived West Seattle power outage

Thanks to Janine for the tip. Almost 100 homes in the Fairmount Park area were without power for more than an hour this morning; the outage has been resolved but we’re noting it here just for the record, as the Seattle City Light website doesn’t archive outages. Janine said the outage was preceded by a flash and “boom” around 8 am; the outage was resolved sometime after 9.

UPDATE: Gas-leak response in High Point

July 29, 2021 4:00 pm
|    Comments Off on UPDATE: Gas-leak response in High Point
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | WS breaking news

4 PM: A Seattle Fire callout has arrived in the 2900 block of SW Myrtle in High Point to check out a reported gas leak. No other details so far.

4:03 PM: Firefighters have told dispatch the problem was apparently in the kitchen and they’re looking to cut off gas “to the entire building.” (The address is for the True-living Church, mentioned here recently because of a redevelopment plan.)

4:11 PM: The response is winding down.

FOLLOWUP: Vandal/thief blamed for water-pressure problem that affected 1,300+ West Seattle customers

July 28, 2021 5:33 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Vandal/thief blamed for water-pressure problem that affected 1,300+ West Seattle customers
 |   Crime | Utilities | West Seattle news

Last night we published a short reader report about a water-pressure problem in Belvidere, with Seattle Public Utilities telling a customer that a pump-station power problem was involved. We followed up with SPU today and learned that the city believes a thief/vandal is to blame. From SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin:

Around 7:45 pm last night, a power failure occurred at SPU’s Scenic Heights pump station, located at 3915 SW Charlestown St. This caused about 1,358 customers in the area to temporarily experience low pressure for about four hours (see map of the two areas impacted – outlined in purple). SPU electricians and maintenance staff were immediately dispatched to the pump station to investigate the problem. Crews discovered that an electrical plug-in device appeared to have been stolen. It was replaced and power was restored to the pump station around 11:45 pm. SPU is investigating this incident as possible vandalism.

We have a followup question asking for more information about the “electrical plug-in device.”

ADDED: Here’s how Goodwin answered that followup:

The safety of the drinking water supply was never compromised, and SPU staff continues to monitor and operate the drinking water system 24/7.

An electrical disconnect switch was likely stolen from the pump station, which caused the pump station to lose power. The switch is normally used to turn off power to the pump station if it needs to be maintained, so we can do maintenance safely.

When this particular pump station loses power, customers’ water pressure drops, but remains within a level designed to protect public health.

We are replacing the stolen electrical switch with a more tamper-proof model, and we’re evaluating added security needs at the pump station.

READER REPORT: Water woes in Belvidere

Got a text about low water pressure in Belvidere. 206-386-1800 is how to report any water problem – pressure, discoloration, outage, etc. The texter reports back that Seattle Public Utilities says they’re having a power problem at a substation; electricians are working on it.

POWER OUTAGE: 100+ customers out in West Seattle after pole hit

2:41 PM: Police are responding to a report of a driver hitting a pole, with downed wires, at 37th/Charlestown, and the City Light outage map shows 123 customers out as a result. Updates to come.

3:10 PM: We found the pole and wires, but no police and no car. There was no SFD callout so apparently no injuries.

3:38 PM: Thanks to Carolyn for texting to report that the Genesee/Avalon signal is flashing red.

4:36 PM: For some reason police have just been re-dispatched to this; this time the dispatch described the vehicle as a “white flatbed crane.”

4:45 PM: Commenter Linda, in the neighborhood, says the vehicle in question has stayed on scene since the incident 2+ hours ago.

5:17 PM: Commenters report the power’s back, and SCL’s map says the outage is down to 21 customers.

10:34 PM: Those 21 customers are still out.

FOLLOWUP: West Seattle beach pollution from condo sewer problems not over after all

(WSB photo, last week)

Nine days after we first reported on warning signs south of Alki Point because of a sewer leak on private property, the problems aren’t over after all, Seattle Public Utilities confirms. Two days after that first report, SPU told us the leak had stopped, but bacteria levels were still high enough to keep nearby beaches closed to water activities. Then on Wednesday a reader tipped us that more signage had gone up east of Alki Point, including one seen at 64th/Alki. So we checked back with SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register, whose reply identifies the problem property for the first time:

Seattle Public Utilities staff continue to test water samples daily to determine when the beach can safely reopen to water activities. Since the July 13 discovery of the overflow caused by a broken side sewer at a multi-unit building at 3717 Beach Drive, samples have shown higher than acceptable levels of bacteria. Continued high readings of bacteria revealed additional sewer-related issues at the multi-unit building and prompted SPU’s Spill Response team to extend and expand the beach closure .

SPU property owners are responsible for maintaining their sewer lines and any discharges from unmaintained lines can result in fines. SPU will issue a notice of violation to the property owner.

Tide flows and the availability of contractors have impacted their repair schedule. Repairs are scheduled to begin (today). SPU staff will continue to work with the building owner and Public Health-Seattle & King County to determine when water activities along Beach Dr. can safely resume.

3717 Beach Drive is the Harbor West condo building, built on pilings over the water. The complex had a major sewer leak back in 2013.

UPDATE: 10 1/2-hour power outage after tree topples into wires, onto Jacobsen Road

5:01 AM: Thanks for the tips. 144 homes are without power on Beach Drive. A downed tree in the 5200 block of Jacobsen Road [map] gets the blame, according to email; the 911 log shows a “wires down” call there just before 3:30 am.

6:15 AM: Jacobsen is still blocked both ways by the tree. The closure sign isn’t until part of the way down the hill, however, so while we were there, drivers were starting down the hill – then having to turn around once they came to the sign. (Added) Here’s a closer look at where the tree is tangled with the wires:

We’ll check back in a few hours.

11:15 AM: Update in comments from Tom – the road had cleared for a while but is now closed again for City Light work.

1:58 PM: As noted in comments and confirmed by the SCL map, the power is back on. (Added – We have confirmed that the road is open again, too.)

FOLLOWUP: Seattle City Light about to start long-planned Brace Point underground upgrades

July 15, 2021 4:04 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Seattle City Light about to start long-planned Brace Point underground upgrades
 |   Fauntleroy | Utilities | West Seattle news

If you’re south of Fauntleroy, you might have seen signs like that (thanks to Nathan for the photo). Seattle City Light is finally gearing up for its Brace Point underground upgrades. They’ve set an online community meeting for August 4th, with details in this flyer SCL will be circulating:

The flyer explains that the underground cabling in the area is 50 years old, and had some work done 10 years ago. This project’s been in the works a while; we last checked on it a year ago, following the latest in a series of outages in the area, blamed on an underground failure.

FOLLOWUP: Admiral gas-line break investigation

(WSB photo, Monday)

One day after a construction crew broke a 4-inch gas line at California/Lander, closing the street and evacuating nearby businesses for five-plus hours (WSB coverage here), an investigation is under way. We followed up today with Puget Sound Energy, which provides natural-gas service in our area. We asked, first, why it took so long to shut off the gas after Monday’s break. PSE spokesperson Jarrett Tomalin said, “When our crews are called to an incident, each one may have its own unique factors to obtain shutdown. Typically, we’ll have our mapping team determine the best option for shutting down the gas leak to ensure safety, while also ensuring the fewest number of customers are impacted. The shutdown process in yesterday’s incident was complex, as it required other utilities to cut power, and heavy equipment to excavate the shutdown location.” Our other question: Who’s investigating? Tomalin’s reply: “This incident will be investigated by PSE, the locating service, and the contractor responsible for the damage to PSE’s gas line, with the UTC being notified of the gas line incident.” (That’s the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.) For some, the break’s effects lasted into today; one nearby apartment resident noted in a comment that their building’s gas service was affected, which meant no hot water for washing and bathing,

UPDATE: 5 hours of street closures, evacuations after gas-line break in Admiral District

10:29 AM: Seattle Fire is just arriving in the 2700 block of California SW for a potential natural-gas problem. The logged address is the construction site toward the north end of the block. They’re blocking California SW so avoid the area for a while.

10:34 AM: Puget Sound Energy is on the way; firefighters told dispatch that the break appears to be “by an excavator.” They’re monitoring air status in nearby buildings including Safeway.

10:50 AM: Our crew is there and sending photos. The California closure starts further north, as shown in our top photo – in the 2600 block. If you leave the Safeway parking lot, for example, you’ll only be allowed to turn north. The closure extends to Stevens (the PCC corner).

10:56 AM: PSE has arrived.

11:05 AM: The incident commander just told dispatch that PSE says this is a four-inch east-west line and “this will be a prolonged incident,” so they’re going to have City Light shut down power nearby.

11:17 AM: Firefighters just told dispatch they’re evacuating Safeway. (We just called PCC and so far they’re stlll open, as is West Seattle Runner [WSB sponsor] just up the block.)

11:42 AM: Not resolved yet. And for those who’ve asked, yes, that’s a TV helicopter.

12:04 PM: SFD says “all affected businesses and residences have been evacuated.”

12:43 PM: Our crew went back to the scene for updates. The leak can still be heard, so it’s not shut off yet. Meantime, as a commenter mentioned, some power’s been cut in the area. Some businesses including Safeway (whose staff was lunching in the parking lot) remain closed.

1:02 PM: We talked with SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo at the scene. He says the air quality in the area is generally OK and evacuations were done as a precaution more than anything. PSE is still working on getting the broken line shut down safely. No estimate yet on how much longer this is likely to last.

1:23 PM: A commenter asked about West Seattle High School. We went over to the office; they told us the students were sent home.

(Photo by Vy Duong)

1:55 PM: SFD is swapping out crews. We’re headed back for another update.

2:48 PM: The hissing from the break is quieter than it originally was, and SFD confirms that PSE has “reduced” the leak but not yet stopped it.

3:38 PM: SFD says PSE has stopped the leak and everything is reopening. Our crew should be back in the area in a few minutes to verify.

3:50 PM: Safeway, for one, has reopened. But the streets are not yet open again, our crew reports.

4:10 PM: Metro has resumed regular routing, which means the streets are back open.

FOLLOWUP: Why part of Westwood Village lost power for 24+ hours

June 28, 2021 10:46 pm
|    Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Why part of Westwood Village lost power for 24+ hours
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news | Westwood

Before the heat wave arrived, we got some questions from former residents of frequently overheated cities, wondering what Seattle City Light was doing to try to hold off brownouts/blackouts once the power demand surged. We haven’t historically had much heat-related trouble here; SCL explained its preparations in this post. That said, the utility is currently dealing with 22 scattered outages affecting 2,600+ customers around its service area. In West Seattle, the most notable outage involved more than two dozen customers at Westwood Village, in an outage that started Friday evening and wasn’t fully resolved until Saturday night (WSB coverage here). Some stores closed. We followed up today with SCL spokesperson Julie Moore, who told us this was one of several weekend outages around the system caused by heat-related underground equipment failure. As for why it took so long to fix, she said that underground outages pose challenges in finding exactly what failed and why, and then they have to be careful with the crews going into the vaults to fix the problem – dealing with temperatures higher than the air outside.

UPDATE: Small Alki power outage

a href=”https://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Screen-Shot-2021-06-27-at-7.37.39-PM-e1624849793130.png”>

8:12 PM: Thanks for the tip. Small power outage in Alki – five customers lost power about an hour ago, per the Seattle City Light map – but notable because of the weather. Our tipster reports hearing what may have been a fuse blowing; the map does not yet note a cause.

9:27 PM: “Equipment failure” is listed as the cause.

12:25 AM: As noted in comments, there was also a 4-customer outage around 50th/Hudson. That has already ended but the Alki outage is in its sixth hour.

UPDATE: Power outage in Westwood

8:22 PM: Thanks for the tip. A 26-customer power outage in Westwood is having some effects at the shopping center. A texter tells us there’s restricted access to cold/frozen food at QFC. Seattle City Light‘s map says the outage started just after 6:30 pm but doesn’t yet identify the cause.

1:19 AM: Still out. Added screenshot of outage map, for the record.

10:40 AM: Not fixed yet, after 16 hours. Reader says the Westwood QFC is closed. The SCL map now attributes the outage to “equipment failure.”

12:08 PM: The supermarket is NOT closed – we just went there to check. However, this big loud generator truck is running by the north door:

8:08 PM: The outage is about a third of its size – eight customers now. The generator truck is gone from QFC but they are still sorting out the refrigerated-item situation. Meantime, we’ve confirmed at least one store that did close because of the outage – Marshall’s.

9:43 PM: Map shows it’s been fully restored, more than 24 hours after the outage started. We’ll be asking SCL about the cause on Monday.

UPDATE: Gas-line break near Delridge/Kenyon

(Texted photo)

2:11 PM: Avoid Delridge Way SW near SW Kenyon – a big Seattle Fire response is on the way for a reported break in a 2″ gas line. Updates to come.

2:14 PM: Firefighters are telling dispatch they’re evacuating adjacent residences as a precaution.

2:25 PM: They’re calling for medical help for one person.

2:30 PM: That’s now been canceled. Puget Sound Energy has arrived and firefighters say the leak “has been shut down.”

2:39 PM: Some of the SFD responding units have been dismissed. Now the crews on scene are testing the air in nearby buildings to be sure it’s safe for people to go back inside (including construction workers).

2:43 PM: Firefighters told dispatch it’ll be “at least 10 more minutes” before they can resume letting buses (and presumably other traffic) through.

UTILITY WORK: Sewer maintenance continuing all summer in West Seattle

Even if they haven’t come to your neighborhood (yet), you might have seen crews/trucks like this at work in various parts of West Seattle recently. They’re doing sewer-line maintenance without digging up the street, and it’ll continue all summer. After the crews spent two days in our Upper Fauntleroy neighborhood this week, we checked in with Seattle Public Utilities for an update on the overall project. What they’re doing is re-lining sewer pipes, with 60 sites in “southwest Seattle” as part of this stage of the. project, officially known as 2017 Small Diameter Lining Project Contract 1. “For this project, SPU contractor crews will rehabilitate about 4.57 miles of sewer mainline pipes that are 15” in diameter or smaller. Construction on these via cure-in-place pipe, non-excavation repairs takes only a few days or less to complete,” SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register explains, adding that some areas might take longer because of “multiple segments of pipe flagged for rehabilitation.” If they’re going to work in your area, you should get a door hanger and flyer; the ones distributed by contractor Michels in our neighborhood a few days ahead of two work sessions projected 12 hours of work (during which you’re supposed to limit plumbing use), but in both cases the crews were done by mid-afternoon, after about eight hours. Register says the project overall should be complete by mid-September.

UPDATE: Big power outage, initially stretching from southeast West Seattle to Burien

6:43 PM: Thanks for the tips. The Seattle City Light map shows a big outage affecting parts of Riverview/Highland Park but mostly stretching further south, into Burien – 6,320 homes and businesses. It started just after 6:30 pm. No word on the cause yet.

7:22 PM: The Myers/Olson light is out, as are many in Burien. Remember that means an all-way stop.

7:26 PM: About a thousand customers – including most if not all of those who were affected in WS – are back on.

7:54 PM: The outage – now stretching southward from Top Hat into Burien – is blamed on “equipment failure.”

8:40 PM: Down to 657 customers. We’ll follow up tomorrow to get a more-specific description of what failed.

9:50 PM: Got the info tonight after all. SCL spokesperson Julie Moore says, “The outage was caused by a broken cross arm on a pole, which brought wires down. Once the cause was located, we were able to restore power to most customers (all but ~650 of the original 6,300). Crews will keep working until the rest of the customers are restored, which we’re estimating could take several hours.”

2:11 AM: City Light says everyone’s back on.

UPDATE: Power outage in Upper Morgan

June 14, 2021 8:55 pm
|    Comments Off on UPDATE: Power outage in Upper Morgan
 |   Utilities | West Seattle news

8:55 PM: Thanks to Susan for the tip: 10 homes are without power in Upper Morgan, since just before 8 pm. Seattle City Light‘s outage map doesn’t show the cause yet.

1:30 AM: Just checked the map again – it’s over.

FOLLOWUP: What caused twin West Seattle Junction power outages, and what’ll be done to prevent more

Readers in The Junction identified that pole as epicenter of the two identical-footprint West Seattle Junction power outages this past Friday and Saturday – both taking out almost 500 businesses and homes for hours, both blamed on “bird/animal.” We followed up today with Seattle City Light spokesperson Julie Moore, who tells WSB: “It was indeed crows impacting the same spot two days in a row. We are pursuing installing avian protection at this location, which will require a scheduled outage to perform the work. I don’t have details on timing right now, but impacted customers will receive notification when the work is scheduled.” The City Light website explains avian protection and notes more than 200 known bird deaths a year – mostly crows.

UPDATE: Power outage déjà vu in West Seattle Junction

7:20 PM: Power’s out in the West Seattle Junction again – same area, same number of customers as Friday’s outage, 491. That one was blamed on “bird/animal” – no word on this one yet, though one texter says it’s the “same pole.”

9:09 PM: This one too is attributed to that same type of cause.

12:25 AM: Power’s back.