After the June 23 – 24 King County Open House / block meetings in the Westwood and Sunrise Heights neighborhoods, we’re more convinced than ever that King County should resolve sewer overflows with other solutions than any type of above ground, open, street water collection swale.
Residents on many blocks posed numerous questions and concerns to King County and SVR representatives. SVR is the contractor hired to design the bioswales.
Most residents left the meetings feeling that the proposed bioswale project is a big experiment that puts residents’ health, safety and property values at risk. Many residents realized how this proposed project will negatively impact quality of life in the community and are disappointed that King County is proposing to give West Seattle a bioswale CSO option instead of one of the better options being given to other Seattle neighborhoods.
Residents attending the meeting cited concerns that include:
- Drowning and tripping concerns. King County’s response is that they “don’t anticipate any accidents.” Residents may want to read about this near drowning in Renton at an unfenced water retention pond: http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/news/160711315.html?mobile=true
- Lawsuits related to tripping and drowning hazards. In response to questions about lawsuits, King County responded: “It is not possible for the County to respond to a hypothetical question about injuries and liability. Liability is based upon the facts of a given case and the applicable law applied to those facts. If litigation is brought against the County, then the County will respond based upon the facts and law regarding that particular case.” In addition to this response being vague, it also seems more rational to prevent the possibility of a lawsuit entirely by not installing a safety hazard in the public right of way.
- King County stating that the bioswales and bump-outs will “calm” traffic, but won’t slow down emergency vehicles—how is this possible?
- Water build-up in swales increasing likelihood of mosquitoes and flies breeding and attracting other pests.
- Toxin build-up in soils and mulch as water runoff from yards and streets enter the bioswales. We don’t believe that plants will mitigate all the toxins; we believe that untreated, toxic soils will sit in residential neighborhoods for extended periods of time. SVR stated that they will test the soils once a year and might replace them every 15 years or so. Also, where will these toxic soils be deposited once they are finally removed?
- Soil oversaturation from collecting thousands of gallons of water and then piping it for years on end to a dumping point below ground. Will this create sinkholes? Will residents who already have wet basement / crawlspace issues and wet spots in yards suffer worse problems? A King County representative said that the bioswales will actually help solve these existing water issues but did not provide any data to back up this assertion.
- Maintenance of the bioswales not being up to homeowner’s standards. An SVR representative stated that maintenance crews in High Point weeded out and mulched over groundcovers because they thought the groundcover was weeds!
- Loss of curb appeal / pretty tree-lined streets; loss of property value during resale.
- Loss of parking in front of homes for residents, visitors and delivery / moving trucks.