Both the City of Seattle and King County are in the process of evaluating how best to address Ballard’s combined sewer overflow and stormwater management problems. They both are developing their long term CSO control plans, and they both will have projects in the Ballard area.
The focus of planning efforts should be on how best to improve water quality in Puget Sound. We advocate for an approach that:
- Recognizes the physical characteristics that complicate stormwater management in Ballard, including that much of Ballard’ is built on low-permeable soil (glacial till) and that exceptions and variations are highly local; that Sunset Hill and other areas in Ballard have a high water table and perched water; and that Ballard is an established developed environment.
- Takes growth and climate change into account. Ballard is growing in population and density. While new developments will have to manage their own stormwater, more people puts more demand on an aging sewer system. Climate change projections indicate that the Northwest will have higher velocity in precipitation, meaning more frequent and intense rain
- Promotes a holistic, coordinated approach. The City of Seattle and King County should work together to the maximum extent possible. Planning should focus selecting the most environmentally effective, cost effective approaches to reducing pollution of our local waterways. It should address stormwater, combined sewer overflows, and drainage issues together.
- Is realistic about the challenges and complexities of solving this problem, including the physical barriers to “green infrastructure” projects throughout much of Ballard.
- Invites creativity in exploring options for capturing, containing, releasing and treating stormwater.
- Involves the Ballard community in developing the solutions. Technical specialists, urban planners and the community should work together to decide what the subterranean structure can handle and what solutions make sense.
Seattle’s Timeline and Process
The City of Seattle‘s planning will most directly affect what happens to address Ballard’s CSO (from the Ballard Basin). There are two issues that need to be discussed and decided with the Ballard Community:
1) How much of the solution in Ballard, if any, will be “green infrastructure;” and
2) Figuring out whether the the storage solution will be a tank or tunnel (tying into a tunnel that SPU and King County are jointly planning to address Fremont/Wallingford’s CSO issues.)
Seattle Planning Process and Timeline:
- Summer 2012 -December 2012. Discuss CSO and stormwater management options with the Ballard community. Decide what if any role “green infrastructure,” will have in addressing Ballard’s CSO problems.
- Early 2013. The scope of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement will be revised to address changed conditions, such as new alternatives to reduce Ballard CSOs and opportunities for Integrated Plan stormwater projects..
- Throughout 2013 – SPU will evaluate whether to build a storage facility or tunnel (jointly with King County). A recommendation will be reached by the end of 2013.
- Late 2013/2014 – Plan to consolidate the two pipes at the 150/151 outfall into one pipe and will replace and probably extend the pipe.
- Early 2014 – The Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be issued.
- Once the decision is made, construction will take 3-4 years
Seattle’s plans may be affected by the draft consent decree that is currently before Seattle City Council. If the consent decree is finalized it will allow efforts to focus on the most effective way to address stormwater and water quality problems in a more holistic and cost-effective manner. The draft consent decree has taken four years to craft. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the City of Seattle would be the signatories. The Department of Justice has 6 months to review.
Links to information about the consent decree:
- News advisory: http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail.asp?ID=12784
- Mayor McGinn (Seattle Mayor), Ted Sturdevant (Ecology Director): Jean Godden (Seattle City Council) http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=5191223 (Video takes 21 minutes)
- City Council Ordinance to Adopt Consent Decree (includes consent decree)
King County Planning and Timeline
King County is in the midst of adopting an updated Combined Sewer Control Plan which recommends two projects that will affect east Ballard. King County proposes to:
- Construct a 0.6 mile-long pipeline to convey excess flows from 11th Ave NW to West Point Treatment Plant via the new Ballard Siphon and
- Address the 3rd Ave W CSO by building a joint county-city storage tank on the north side of the ship canal in the Fremont area (at approximately 3rd Ave NW).
King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division plans to continue working on the CSO project at North Beach and replacing the Ballard Siphon.
- 2012 – Complete design work at North Beach and obtain Ecology approval on final design; continue to work on Ballard Siphon replacement; and obtain King County approval of Recommended Combined Sewer Overflow Control Plan.
- 2013– Prepare for and begin construction of underground storage pipeline at North Beach and complete construction work at the Ballard Siphon.replacement project.
- 2014 -2015 – Continue construction of the underground storage pipeline at North Beach; complete it 18-24 months after start of construction.
- The timing of the 11th Ave NW and 3rd Ave NW projects is still to be determined.