Ship Canal Water Quality Project update — it’s all bad news.

For several years now, King County and the City of Seattle have been jointly working on a project to supplement the “combined water outflow” sewer and storm drain system that during large rainstorms can dump raw sewage into the Ship Canal. The project is required under a consent decree that Seattle and King County signed with the federal government.

Today the Seattle City Council got a briefing on the status of the project. The news was particularly bad.

Pre-construction borings to assess the underground conditions along the path where a new tunnel will be dug found a “12-foor diameter mega-boulder” and that the underground infrastructure is not as described in “as built” documentation.

In addition, inflation will cost the city and county substantially as prices are now much higher for construction projects (and delays due to COVID made that worse).

They now expect a total increase of $45 to $80 million on the cost of the project, one third of which will be the county’s responsibility and two-thirds will be the city’s. In addition, the completion date of the project will now extend past the deadline of 12/31/2025 as specific in the consent decree.

Seattle Public Utilities believes that it can cover its share of the extra costs without raising rates beyond what is already in the utility’s plan.

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