Underneath Salmon Bay run a pair of 75-year-old sewer pipes that needs to be replaced. The old wooden pipes convey about 60-million gallons of sewage to the West Point Treatment Plant near Discovery Park every day. According to Annie Kolb Nelson with the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, the pipes are at the end of their lifespan.
The Metropolitan King County Council recently secured funding to replace the wooden pipes with larger concrete segments. The new 85-inch pipes will help ease the combined sewer overflows, which are overflows of stormwater and wastewater that occur during heavy rains in older parts of Seattle. “The County was able to use our strong credit rating to secure a low rate loan that will allow the Ballard Siphon to be upgraded while saving money for ratepayers, creating jobs, reducing sewer overflows, and improving water quality,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, who represents Ballard on the County Council. “This really is a win-win for people living in the Ballard area and for the entire county.” The $20-million, 20 year loan with a 2.8 percent interest is with the Washington State Department of Ecology. According to a release sent out by King County, this loan It will save the County an estimated $26.9 million in interest compared to conventional bond financing.
Kolb-Nelson tells us that they are currently looking for a contractor for the project and once started, the project will take two-and-a-half to three years. There will be two portals – one in Ballard, one in Magnolia. “People should expect impacts during construction – noise, dust, the presence of heavy equipment and possible traffic impacts,” Kolb-Nelson says. “King County will work with the public and the contractor to take reasonable steps to minimize impacts where we can.” The county will appoint a community relations contact if citizens have questions or concerns.
Construction on the Ballard Siphon project is expected to begin later this year. (Old photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives.)