Crews prep boring machine for new sewage tunnel from Ballard to Wallingford

Mar 26, 2021, 3:45 PM | Updated: 3:46 pm

tunnel boring machine...

Crews assembling the tunnel boring machine that will be used for the Ship Canal Water Quality project in Ballard. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities)

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities)

“Sir Digs-A-Lot” is one of five finalists out of 1,200 community suggestions for the name of Seattle’s next big underground tunnel boring machine.

The soon-to-be-named machine will be used to dig a 2.7-mile long, underground storage tunnel from Ballard to Wallingford.

As the project page explains: “Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division are building an underground storage tunnel to significantly reduce the amount of polluted stormwater (from rain) and sewage that flows into the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Salmon Bay, and Lake Union from our sewer system.”

Video: Is that sewage churning in Elliott Bay?

In some areas of Seattle, sewage and stormwater share a set of pipes called a combined sewer. The problem is that when it rains, the water can exceed the pipes’ capacity, “sending untreated sewage (yep, that means poop) and stormwater into the Ship Canal,” as Seattle Public Utilities so eloquently states.

According to Seattle Public Utilities, 84% of the city’s overflows in 2018 came from the combined sewers in Crown Hill, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Queen Anne, Downtown, and Capitol Hill.

The new tunnel will be able to capture and store more than 29 million gallons of untreated stormwater and sewage until the treatment plant is ready for it.

“The tunnel will improve water quality regionally by keeping more than 75 million gallons of polluted stormwater (from rain) and sewage on average each year from flowing into the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Salmon Bay, and Lake Union,” Seattle Public Utilities explains.

Currently under construction, the tunnel is one of several projects that make up the Ship Canal Water Quality Project. Tunneling operations are set to start in Ballard where the team is assembling the tunnel boring machine on site, before it begins its journey in summer 2021.

King County explains how latest West Point spill happened

Additionally, the troubled West Point Treatment Plant at Discovery Park is getting a $65 million makeover, thanks to a unanimous King County Council vote. The upgrades will help prevent future sewage overflows into the Puget Sound during storms by providing better on-site power at the plant.

See all the name suggestions and vote for your favorite on Seattle Public Utilities’ website here. Learn more about the Ship Canal Water Quality Project here.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Whatcom County homeless deaths are increasing, according to a report from the Opportunity Co...

KIRO Newsradio staff

Report: Whatcom County deaths of unhoused people on pace for record amount

More people are dying on the streets of Whatcom County. Opportunity Council said there have been 56 documented deaths this year.

2 hours ago

Photo: Pierce County deputies have reported an office-involved shooting....

Julia Dallas

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reports officer-involved shooting

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department has reported a shooting involving an officer took place on Monday.

3 hours ago

Photo: King County deputies seized more than a dozen guns after making two arrests in May....

Julia Dallas

King County deputies make arrests; seize nearly 30 pounds of drugs, 18 firearms, flame thrower

King County deputies made two arrests leading to the seizure of more than 25 pounds of drugs and more than a dozen firearms.

4 hours ago

Photo: The Washington State Patrol is cracking down on people who cut in ferry lines....

James Lynch

Don’t be that person: State troopers fine ferry line cutters $145

Have you ever been frustrated by a driver who cut in line at a ferry terminal? Now the Washington State Patrol is cracking down.

5 hours ago

Photo: A deputy's body camera captured a runaway wallaby in Parkland....

Julia Dallas

Runaway wallaby hops out of arms reach of deputies in Parkland

 A wallaby was caught on camera running around Parkland Sunday morning. Pierce County deputies and WSP responded.

7 hours ago

seattle sex trafficking...

Frank Sumrall

Seattle resident arrested for sex trafficking in San José

A San José special operations unit arrested a Seattle resident last week on suspicion of alleged commercial sex trafficking.

10 hours ago

Crews prep boring machine for new sewage tunnel from Ballard to Wallingford