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Why is the Volunteer Park Reservoir still empty? Blame a duckbill valve

In April when CHS reported that the Volunteer Park Reservoir would be drained as part of a test to determine the feasibility of decommissioning the Seattle Public Utilities asset, the dry conditions for the 22 million gallon facility were supposed to be temporary.

But a warm, sunny summer later, the reservoir remains dry. What happened?

After a rough summer for SPU, another problem has cropped up on Capitol Hill — though, fortunately, it’s a much smaller deal than potentially hosing up your part of a $3.1 billion tunnel project.

According to an SPU spokesperson, a special “duckbill valve” has been on order but delayed by the manufacturer. SPU told CHS in late July the valve would take only one day to install — once it is delivered. As of a week or so back, there was still no ETA for the hardware.

In April, CHS reported on the particulars of the decommission tests on the Volunteer Park and Roosevelt reservoirs. Unlike Roosevelt where the pool will remain empty for two years, Volunteer’s reservoir was slated to be refilled during the test given the importance of the water feature to protected landmark park. By 2015, SPU says it will need to decide whether to take Volunteer Park Reservoir offline or cover it like the reservoir beneath Cal Anderson. Meanwhile, the Volunteer Park Trust is working to create a plan to create a six-inch deep reflecting pool encircled by a promenade in the space in conjunction with the decommissioning decision:

With the city making plans to cap Capitol Hill’s Lincoln Reservoir in the early 2000s, a community effort around creating a park as part of the project gave officials something real to work with and a historical base to rehabilitate a green space in the middle of the city. Lincoln was capped in 2003 and, by 2005, topped with Cal Anderson Park as part of a city parks levy project. A similar path could lay ahead for Volunteer Park and the sunset promenade.

“Our plan is a ‘Sunset Promenade,’ like it was in 1912, a broad path with benches and plantings to wander and look at the views and sunset, and feel good about things,” Bayley said.


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3 thoughts on “Why is the Volunteer Park Reservoir still empty? Blame a duckbill valve

  1. I know SPU needs to make the best of a limited budget, but I think it is a mistake to expect ducks to operate the equipment for them.