Moving the Earth

After a rainy week in Seattle, and after SPU filled some of the non-functioning ponds with dirt, we have noticed new patterns that belie the ability of any of these ponds as a CSO resolution.

After filling in the non-functioning ponds that were below the water table, the once-functioning ponds are now full of water and have not drained since. Some of this water is from rain, but some of this water is from groundwater seeping into the hole. None of this water is from the street—the original intent of this curb bulb—since the curb inlet is still plugged with asphalt.

That volume of water has to go somewhere. Where it can’t go is into the clay ground underneath.

Building underground drainage would only attempt to push the water into cement-like clay, or drain this water into the sewer. The latter option is less of a CSO resolution than just holding this groundwater in a very soggy lawn.

After SPU has filled in some non-functioning cells, it has become clear to us this week this overwhelms the functioning cells, and then they become non-functioning cells as well…because it’s all built on top of clay.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Moving the Earth

  1. Sharon

    One of the cells in front of my house has had standing water in it for 28 of the last 30 days! It was labelled as a green “functioning” cell until recently. I do not know it’s current status (yellow? red?).

    It would just be nice (sigh) if I could look out my window some day and see something other than ponds of standing water or muddy ditches day after day after day. Is that so unreasonable?

  2. LB

    Sharon – Are you and the other “Task Force” members in agreement as to what the design standard should be from SPU with regards to the standing water ? SPU says draining within 72-hours after rain stops is acceptable; we know that might be ONCE in January ….. so do we need to get neighborhood agreement as to what the standard SHOULD be ?

  3. JFB

    It still astounds me that the city does not see the obvious, what is in plain site in front of them. These gardens are never going to work, no matter what the patches. First, the glacier till soil will never absorb it. Second the underground springs will continue to go upward. Water follows the path of least resistance and I agree with the post that the goals of this failed pilot project will never work. My only sustaining hope is that the city officials who are working with the community team, will listen, and admit failure. Its ok to fail. But feedback I get is that the city is still trying to push its agenda forward onto the weekly team meetings with neighbors and really not taking their input seriously. Please city officials, please try to work with the people you serve instead of patronizing them. Try to think of it as if it was your home…

  4. Carson

    These photos illustrate that, despite recent design modifications, the main problem resulting from implementation of this pilot project, still exists; standing water.

    This problem is not new to SPU and was acknowledged by Andrew Lee, SPU Combined Sewer Overflow Manager, at the 2/8/2011 Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee meeting when he said, “The fact that we [SPU] encountered soils that don’t drain, we probably should have modified our designs right then and there as opposed to constructing them still and then having a standing water issue.”

    This is an expensive pilot project that is failing dramatically. Further experimentation is unacceptable. Given the existing geology, bioretention swales are inappropriate for this neighborhood. It’s time for SPU to end the experiment and restore our neighborhood to its original design and character.

  5. EMT

    I agree that these photos illustrate that, despite recent design modifications, the main problem resulting from implementation of this pilot project, still exists; standing water. For example, the holes in the weirs have not resulted in dry cells. Instead several inches of standing water remains at the bottom of the cells, where it festers. The cells across the street from my house have bright green growth as well as filthy brown water. This pilot project clearly is a failure. It is time to recognize this and for SPU to work with residents on developing other strategies for reducing the runoff that results in combined sewer overflows.

  6. ebm

    I had seen city crews earlier in the (last) week working in the neighborhood, so I took a few minutes to watch what they were doing in hopes I could better understand what SPU was trying to do to fix the problem holes we have. I saw a dump truck full of sandy soil dump its load into a “dry” hole next to one filled with water. Six workers with shovels and rakes quickly shoveled the mixed soil into the water until the dirt pile was gone and the water could no longer be seen. It appeared as though the strategy was to hide the water problem rather than attempt to fix it. Now I think I understand. But SPU—– WE all know it’s there!!

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