At this month’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council, we heard from Bill Heubach from Seattle Public Utilities about the future of the Roosevelt reservoir and its connection with earthquake planning.
Studies for the city commissioned in the 1990s to predict the impact of a major earthquake to Seattle’s water infrastructure have proven to be out-of-date. In the past 28 years many more fault lines have been discovered in the city itself, as well as experience from major quake cities like Auckland and Kobe. Because of that, the standards for a water system have been upgraded to survive not just an event likely every 50 years but one that might only occur over thousands of years. Pipes that can withstand shaking were first developed in Japan, originally dismissed by American manufacturers, but since then they have jumped on the bandwagon, bringing the price and availability down. Nevertheless, the cost to replace every single pipe in the Seattle system would cost $38 billion. We’ll all get sidewalks before that happens. So the thinking is to upgrade the most vulnerable parts of the system, starting where it passes over ground prone to liquefaction during a quake. And to keep two surplus reservoirs, Volunteer Park and Roosevelt (at NE 75th Street and 15th Avenue NE), for emergency use rather than selling off the land to developers. (Currently they are not usable for potable water as the last of the open-air reservoirs.) The hope is to eventually decrease the amount of time it would take to restore water to the city in case of a catastrophic event. At the moment figures suggest in a worse-case scenario it would take 3-4 weeks just to get 20% of system back working, and 90 days to be back to 100%. Over the next 50 years the city is going to spend $15-20 million annually upgrading the most critical systems and hopefully lower those worse-case figures in the event of magnitude 7.0 quake. Read more about the 2018 study and its conclusions.
Another speaker at the meeting, Shayna Daitch, councilperson Juarez’s legislative assistant, updated us on the homeless situation in Lake City, in particular behind the Starbucks on NE 120th. A sizable encampment has sprung up in recent weeks, with not just tents, but plywood structures and generators. Navigation Teams have done an initial assessment and in two weeks plan to have enough shelter for each person to go to, and begin cleaning out the camp. Alas, the encampment under the 15th Avenue NE bridge is not such a high priority at the moment (public health and safety are the main criteria) with nearly 400 encampments around the city. But as the article in the Seattle Times today said, the city and county have agreed to create one single umbrella group to tackle the situation and assume responsibility for dealing with homelessness.
Meanwhile, if you see an encampment, report it. If you use the Find It, Fix It app/website, use the “Other” option rather than “Illegal Dumping” which just goes to SDOT. You can also call the 206-684-CITY and speak to live human.
Upcoming events: December 23rd, caroling in the park, 7:00 PM – 7:30 (yes, during the Seahawks game, but it should be around halftime, and you’ll still see most of the second half). Two Seed Swaps are scheduled in January, on the 13th and 27th.