No seismic work planned for Cal Anderson reservoir as retrofits begin elsewhere in city

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Lincoln Reservoir buried under Cal Anderson Park (Image: City of Seattle)

Way back in the early aughts the north side of Cal Anderson Park was dominated by the open-air Lincoln Reservoir. In 2003 the city began a two-year project to bury it and give us the wonderful open spaces we enjoy today while keeping our drinking water neighborhood sourced.

For now the underground Lincoln Reservoir is holding water just fine, according to a Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson. However, an expensive retrofit project at the West Seattle Reservoir, designed by the same firm that did Lincoln, is slated to get underway this summer after “seismic deficiencies” were discovered in 2011 followed by extensive testing.

The West Seattle Blog reports that the 4-year-old West Seattle Reservoir under Highland Park needs a $7.6 million retrofit in order to withstand a major seismic event — one much stronger the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. SPU is also studying three other nearby reservoirs to determine if they’ll need retrofits, too. All told the projects could cost up to $30 million, according to SPU.

As of right now, Cal Anderson’s reservoir is not scheduled to undergo seismic testing as no potential design flaws have been raised be the original architects, according to an SPU spokesperson. In 2009 CHS reported on leaks discovered at the West Seattle Reservoir while Lincoln remained structurally sound.

The West Seattle reservoir was designed by the Denver-based firm MWH. The Lincoln Reservoir, designed by the firm Tetra Tech, is a major distribution point for the Cedar River pipeline which provides most of the potable water for central Seattle.

Meanwhile, the currently decommissioned Volunteer Park Reservoir is likely down for the count. SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan told CHS that the utility is continuing to evaluate the city’s drinking water supply in hopes that it can permenantly close the aging Volunteer Park and Roosevelt reservoirs. SPU is expected to make a final decision in 2015.

3 thoughts on “No seismic work planned for Cal Anderson reservoir as retrofits begin elsewhere in city

  1. Any updates on the Volunteer Park reservoir? I was excited to hear that it may be returned to it’s former glory once decommissioned and hope to one day stroll around it and not the chain link fence we have today. Thanks!

  2. Reassuring news. But can you tell us WHY Lincoln Reservoir is apparently sound and stable when West Seattle Reservoir is not, given that they were both designed by the same firm? And why it is not being tested?

    • Ack! I just realized there was an older version of the story posted. I added the updates to reflect that Lincoln’s designer was different that the one in W Seattle, hence no testing.

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