Ship Canal Water Quality Project Update; Committee Briefing on Navigation Team; UNESCO City of Literature

Ship Canal Water Quality Project Update

Last Tuesday my Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts (CRUEDA) committee received another update from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) on the Ship Canal Water Quality Project (SCWQP).  You can watch their presentation here. The SCWQP is a joint project with King County (with a 65% City/35% County cost split) that will address a significant amount of the City’s combined sewer overflow (CSOs). This project is part of a larger effort for both the County and the City to reduce water contamination from CSOs under a Federal and State Consent Decree.

Last June, SPU reported to my committee on this issue and notified me they were beginning a cost reconciliation process in order to better understand the total cost of the project. In 2014, and during that briefing, SPU was still working with project cost estimates between $338 and $550 million; however, after a detailed cost estimate review and reconciliation process SPU reported that the project is now slated to cost $570 million, with a confidence rating of 65%. That means the project is 65% likely to cost $570 million or less (the City’s share is approximately $393 million).

The SCWQP is a tunnel that will run from Wallingford to Ballard and will address the City’s largest remaining CSOs which will remove 90 million gallons of untreated water entering our waterways.

There are many factors which have lead to the increased cost which you can see broken down here:

SPU does not believe that rate increases would be necessary to pay for the increased costs associated with this recent cost estimate.  They report that they will be able to address the cost increase through a combination of government grants, loans, and bond issue interest savings.

During the budget process last year, this was one of two capital projects that the Council applied provisos to. A proviso requires the department to return to Council at a certain stage in project development, in this case it’s at 100% design, to report on the status of the project and requires the Council to vote in favor of releasing the funds to proceed with the rest of project. The SCWQP is slated to come back to Council early next year for this approval.


Committee Briefing on Navigation Team

On Tuesday, May 22nd, the committee on Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts (CRUEDA) was briefed on the impending transition of the Navigation Team from the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) to the Human Services Department (HSD).  This transition to HSD from FAS was required by the Council in the budget process last fall.   As some of you may recall, the Navigation Team was created to address the impacts of people living unsheltered in encampments. The Navigation Team visits people living in unsanctioned encampements, including offering a variety of services such as referrals to housing alternatives, help obtaining identification or benefits, facilitating and safe storage and delivery of personal belongings when encampments are removed because of their placement in a location that is a public safety or public health hazard, an obstruction, or in a park.

HSD can lend their expertise in serving vulnerable populations, and insight and recommendations about how to keep the focus on the vulnerability of the homeless community when deciding which encampments should be scheduled for removal. HSD has also suggested that the Navigation Team mandate racial equity goals to contract with outreach providers led by communities of color.

The transition will take place on July 1st, 2018. While the Navigation Team will then be organizationally staffed out of HSD, the team will still collaborate with FAS, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Public Utilities. The Navigation Team will still be comprised of specially- trained police officers, City field coordinators, contracted outreach workers, and FAS staff, but several new positions will be implemented to compliment the team.


UNESCO City of Literature

Earlier this week a celebration was held at the Seattle Public Library for Seattle’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, as part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network, created in 2004. The effort has been led by Seattle City of Literature.

Seattle is now one of 28 cities worldwide with this designation.

UNESCO is the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. The 180 cities which currently make up this network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.

Thanks to the Seattle City of Literature for coordinating this effort!

Additional information is available at Seattle City of Literature’s website; the City Council endorsed an earlier Seattle bid in 2014.

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