Recent Seahurst Slide May Put City of Burien on Slippery Slope
Story & Photos by Scott Schaefer
A recent series of slides – and claims that the City of Burien is knowingly draining run-off water into an earthquake-sensitive slope – has many Seahurst area residents overflowing with anger.
Water is flowing from a city-managed drain directly into the ground above the parking lot of Eagle Landing Park at 25th Ave SW and SW 149th (see video below), causing – according to resident John White – dangerous slide conditions in the park as well as surrounding properties.
White says it’s causing areas below to slide, putting an historic 164-foot fir tree – which has been labelled as an ‘Eagle Perch’ – in danger, along with the bottom portion of the 290-step staircase of the park.
White – whose piledriving company installed anchors for the Hood Canal Bridge, drove the foundations for the Big Wheel on the Seattle waterfront, and is currently driving the piles for the new 520 bridge – has worked with geotechnical soil reports for more than 35 years, so he probably knows a thing or two about slides.
Here’s a video White recorded on a recent day showing water flowing from the city drain, at a rate he says is around “1,310 gallons per minute” – equal to around 78,600 gallons per hour:
“The runoff water is flowing straight into the ground, right into the slope,” White told The B-Town Blog during a recent tour of the area. “At the bottom of this hill there’s a slide area that’s threatening a 164-foot fir tree. There’s even a small creek flowing out from the bottom of the slide area at the bottom.”
A HISTORY OF REJECTION
White adds the city has rejected many years of citizen complaints regarding the drainage at Eagle Landing Park, maintaining that the slope has natural springs that saturate the hill year-round and that “slides are normal.” He says that while this is true, it calls for a “common sense” solution.
“If the city knows the earthquake-sensitive slope is saturated even in the summer months, then directing thousands of gallons of storm water into this slope is a recipe for a slide disaster,” he said.
He says he understands this is a process as he works with the city manager and public works.
“The locals predicted the slides and now they have appeared, eroding property owned by 400 citizens who are part of the Seahurst Community Beach. In addition, the Eagle Landing stairs concrete platform bulkhead foundation has been waged out and it’s pin piles exposed.”
White has contacted the city’s Public Works Department about this issue, and he’s not happy with their response.
“The city is denying that they’re doing anything wrong here,” White said. “But it’s common sense not to pump water into a critical slope. Water has to go somewhere, and the city’s been pouring it directly into this slope. There’s no doubt in my mind that that’s what’s causing all the slide damage below.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website:
“Slope saturation by water is a primary cause of landslides…”
WHITE PROPOSES A SOLUTION
“I’m not about raising or citing issues without proposing solutions. I’m ready to fund construction of a pipeline down to the water.”
The only problem? The city and he both agree that the “Herbie” – or bottleneck – is the amount of regulations and permits that the City of Burien will have to apply for to get a pipeline.
CITY CHOOSES NOT TO COMMENT
We reached out to City Manager Mike Martin, along with the city’s Parks as well as Public Works Department, all of whom chose not to respond to our request for comment.
White showed us the slide areas in question, and here are some photos showing the damage (click images to see larger versions):