Murray Basin CSO Project Update: Deconstruction Begun, East Sidewalk Closed During Work

MurrayWorkSkedDeconstructionCrews will finish removing hazardous materials from all of the buildings on site at the Murray CSO Control Facility by August 24. Crews will also continue deconstructing and removing the buildings on the project site, starting from the south end of the site and working north.  Crews will use trucks and containers adjacent to the project site to complete demolition activities. Removed materials will exit the area via Lincoln Park Way Southwest. This work will continue through September.

With demolition work in full swing, the project’s fencing has been extended to the east curb of Beach Drive Southwest, and . Beach Drive Southwest’s eastern sidewalk and parking are closed for the duration of the project.  To protect public safety, pedestrians and bicyclists should use the sidewalk on the west side of Beach Drive until the site is cleared in September.

What to expect

  • Work hours will be 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Access to Beach Drive Southwest will be maintained at all times.
  • Lowman Beach Park will remain open.
  • Project fencing extending over the sidewalk to the east curb of Beach Drive Southwest to maintain public safety.
  • Beach Drive Southwest’s western sidewalk remains open for pedestrians and bicyclists .
  • Increased noise and activity typical of a construction site.
  • Heavy equipment including trucks, excavators, and construction containers operating on and around the project site.
  • No parking along the eastern side of Beach Drive Southwest and both sides of Murray Avenue Southwest through the end of September.
  • Increased truck traffic on nearby streets.

The existing structures on the Murray CSO Control Facility site must be removed before construction of the new storage facility begins in late 2013. The facility will help protect Puget Sound by storing sewage and polluted stormwater during storms to prevent overflows out of the regional sewer system into the water off of Lowman Beach Park.

For more information: Call the 24-hour project information hotline: 206-205-9185

PARK(ing) Day Returns To Seattle Sept. 30; Application Deadline is August 30

EasyStreetParkingDayIt’s that time again! PARK(ing) Day is just around the corner, and this is your chance to build a park for a day. PARK(ing) Day 2013 will be held on Friday, September 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and the deadline for applications is August 30.  PARK(ing) Day is sponsored by Seattle Department of Transportation.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business, an individual, or a community group—anyone can participate in PARK(ing) Day.

Each year, PARK(ing) Day provides an opportunity to create fun and interactive public spaces to engage our community. People all around Seattle will be installing temporary mini-parks in on-street parking spaces to help start a conversation about healthy, sustainable, and livable cities.

It’s really easy to participate; you can apply for a park space under the free PARK(ing) Day street use permit. You can propose a park in either two mid-block parking spaces on an arterial street or in one mid-block space on a residential street. To ensure that your park will meet some basic safety standards, you’ll need to submit a site plan and location description for SDOT review. But don’t worry; you don’t have to be a professional architect, engineer, or artist to draw a site plan! Your site plan and location description must be emailed to no later than August 30.

For additional information about PARK(ing) Day, including basic guidelines for your park, please visit our updated website:

And while you’re thinking about your park, here are a few more things to consider:

  • The City’s Department of Neighborhoods (DON) has a Small Sparks Fund that provides grants of up to $1,000 to support community activities. So if you have a cool idea for a park but could use some extra cash to buy the “stuff” you want to put in the space, you should consider applying for a Small Sparks grant.
  • This year, PARK(ing) Day falls within the Seattle Design Festival, which runs September 13-22. The festival includes a Pop-Up Park Design Competition inspired by PARK(ing) Day. More information on the design competition can be found here, and entries are due August 16.
  • The more people that participate in PARK(ing) Day, the better! Let your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other contacts know about this opportunity. Feel free to forward this email, and you can also share the attached poster (in either digital or printed form) to help spread the word.

If you have any questions about PARK(ing) Day or about preparing your application, please contact We look forward to seeing your creative designs!

West Seattle Bike Connection Gets SWS Sustainable Champion of Year Award; Laura James, Tox-Ick Program, Awarded as SWS 2013 Volunteer of the Year

SWS-Picnic-Shelter-#3Sustainable West Seattle yesterday awarded our annual Sustainable Champion of the Year award to the West Seattle Bike Connection.  The SWS Sustainable Champion award recognizes the efforts of individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to a sustainable community and a sustainable planet during the previous year.  The award is made at the annual Sustainable West Seattle picnic, held for the past three years at Shelter #3 in Lincoln Park.

Sustainable West Seattle also introduced a new award at yesterday’s picnic, the Volunteer of the Year award, which was presented to Laura James, the Puget Sound videographer  whose efforts to document the effects of stormwater overflow were incorporated into the Tox-Ick stormwater and pollution runoff prevention program.

R->L Aili LePard, Al Jackson, Kathy Dunn, Bob Winship, all members of West Seattle Bike Connection.
R->L Aili LePard, Al Jackson, Kathy Dunn, Bob Winship, all members of West Seattle Bike Connection, and Kimberly Leeper, president of Sustainable West Seattle.

West Seattle Bike Connection’s award was based on the group’s efforts during 2013 to raise bicycle safety awareness throughout West Seattle by staging several “bike by” events where they handed out information and took comments.  The group has been instrumental in working with the city’s Bicycle Master Plan group and with SWS’s existing West Seattle Spokespeople to research, identify, and help develop greenways here in West Seattle.  The West Seattle Bike Connection has also partnered with West Seattle Spokespeople and Cascade Bicycle Club to co-host a series of rides here in West Seattle and across the Duwamish.  They also participated and helped with education at this year’s West Seattle SummerFest GreenLife exposition.

Laura James (right) holding Sustainable West Seattle Volunteer of the Year award with SWS Kimberly Leeper looking on.
Laura James (right) holding Sustainable West Seattle Volunteer of the Year award with SWS Kimberly Leeper looking on.

Laura James was honored for volunteerism because of the extraordinary efforts she’s brought to the Tox-Ick program following it’s creation two years ago.  Laura stepped in after Tox-Ick’s original director, Cate White (also last year’s Sustainable Champion of the Year awardee), relocated to the Bay Area to pursue her career in the non-profit world.  Laura has been working with companies and to provide lunchtime education with videos she’s shot underwater and has more recently expanded this outreach program to include small businesses and their patrons.

Energy Blog: Land Use: Ethanol vs Solar

by Andy Silber

Corn field

On a recent trip to Minneapolis, I looked out the window of the plane and saw a vast expanse of land growing corn. It had me thinking about ethanol, since much of that corn is being grown to feed not man nor beast, but cars and trucks. I wondered if we wouldn’t be better off covering that land with solar panels. On my return, I looked up some numbers and my suspicions were confirmed: we could produce about 4 times the electricity consumed in the US by covering the land now used to grow corn for ethanol with solar panels.

Here’s the math:

Acres of corn under cultivation 9.74E+07
Fraction of corn used for ethanol production 0.28
Square meters per acre 4047
Solar irradiance [kW/m2) 1
Efficiency of solar panel 0.12
Duty cycle (e.g. factor in weather, night) 0.2
Transmission/storage efficiency 0.7
Average Solar Power capacity on land now growing corn for ethanol [kw] 1.85E+09
Total US electricity consumption in 2011 [] 3,749,846
Average Power [kw] 4.28E+08
What % of US electricity consumption could be powered by solar panels on land now growing corn for ethanol? 433%

I’m not suggesting we take some of the best agricultural land in the world and cover it with solar panels. I’m suggesting we grow food on that land, and cover 10% of that much land in the desert or on roof tops with solar photovoltaic panels to generate some of the energy we need. My point is the idea that solar power takes up too much land is absurd.

So let’s do a little bit more math. Suppose we have a goal to produce 30% of our electricity with solar power. How much land is that? That is less space than parking lots consume. Much of that could be on rooftops of homes and business, or covering parking lots.

Average Power [kw] 4.28E+08
Average power generated on one 1m2 [kw] 0.0168
Area needed to generate 30% of our electricity [m2] 7.64E+09
Area needed to generate 30% of our electricity [square miles] 2,951
Area of parking spaces in the US 3,590
Fraction of the area of parking lots 82.2%
Area of the US 3.80E+06
Fraction of the US needed to generate 30% of our electricity from solar power 0.08%

With the cost of solar dropping quickly, it seems likely the solar will soon be playing an important part of meeting our energy needs. One things that won’t be stopping this growth is running out of room.