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Cal Anderson’s hatches to open for Lincoln Reservoir cleaning and maintenance

Lincoln Reservoir — now covered by Cal Anderson (Images: City of Seattle)

With happy times and green space above, below Cal Anderson Park lurks two 6.25 million-gallon vaults full of clear, cool, Seattle Public Utilities drinking water. Soon, portions of Capitol Hill’s central park will be fenced off for a month of maintenance in the subterranean Lincoln Reservoir.

According to SPU, the reservoir will be drained, inspected and then washed and its roof, hatches, vents and screens will be inspected. “Repairs to the system will also be made and debris will be removed from the reservoir’s perimeter and grounds as needed,” a notice from SPU to be posted at the work site reads.

“The areas that will be closed will be relatively small, and are immediately adjacent to equipment and access hatches,” a spokesperson for SPU tells CHS.  “Most of these hatches are located beneath the metal lids in the gravel pathway and sidewalk adjacent to the ripple pool. There are also hatches underneath the chessboards, which will be temporarily moved.”

SPU says the fencing should go up either Friday or early next week. Crews will work Monday through Friday, from 7 AM to 5 PM. In addition to the cordoned-off area, expect increased noise and truck activity in the area, SPU says. Similar work in the park took place in 2009.

Unlike other reservoirs in SPU’s system, Lincoln has been recently free of issues around leaks (2009) and seismic retrofits (2014). In 2010, however, a large swath of the park was closed for a lengthy project to repair turf in areas where grass had struggled to fully take root over the years.

There has been a reservoir at the site for 115 years. Its above ground days were only partly charming. “The four-acre open reservoir with its fountain jet occupied the northern half of the park, but its soothing presence was surrounded by chain link fencing with barbed wire along the top,” Historylink records. After the state mandated that Seattle’s open water sources needed to be covered in the early 1990s, Kay Rood and community groups helped lead an effort to cap the reservoir with a park.

Meanwhile, the decommissioned Volunteer Park Reservoir seems likely to eventually be closed and, possibly, similarly transformed. SPU has been expected to make a final decision on the Volunteer Park facility this year.

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