[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]
In the Boulevard Park neighborhood of Burien, a small, unnamed stream runs from Southern Heights park, south through a ravine in several backyards, spreads into a large pool in the excavated portion of an unfinished construction project, runs under 124th street, and between the homes on 14th and 12th Ave S.
On Christmas eve, 2020, during heavy rainstorms, a resident saw rising water threatening to enter her home. She had only recently repaired the damage to her sheetrock and flooring, and removed the smell of sewage left from 2019’s floods. She had already had to have her toilets and showers plugged to prevent sewage from bubbling in and overflowing the drains. She has lost access to toilet and bathing facilities. This after proactively pumping her septic tank to prevent flooding.
She no longer has the use of 50% of her home because of the flooding.
She is not alone in this neighborhood. On December 24th, along the houses facing S 124th St., the odor of raw sewage was appalling. Those houses are adjacent to the stream, which is certainly being contaminated on its way to Puget Sound.
Many issues contribute to the mess. Neighbors downstream whose home improvement projects blocked or redirected the stream, are contributors to the flooding. Public Works and the City are aware of the need to undo some of these projects. Action needs to be taken before more damage is done, and the stream’s original path must be restored!
However, a wetlands on S. 124th St. that was cleared for development, is also to blame for the flooding.
Before the annexation of Boulevard Park, King County had deemed the wetlands property to be unbuildable. The City of Burien should never have granted permission to that developer to clear the trees from the property. The trees were helping to control the flooding by absorbing volumes of water through their roots. Aside from a moat that was a failed attempt at mitigation, and a large culvert that is often clogged with illegally dumped trash, the foreclosed property sits vacant, polluted and flooded.
The developer was told to mitigate the damage he did to the wetlands. Instead he hauled truckloads of construction rubble, consisting of dirt, concrete and other refuse, to the site. This “mitigation” only served to pool the rain waters and send the overflow into neighboring properties.
This wetlands on S. 124th St. is adjacent to Southern Heights Park, which is the site of the reservoir for our drinking water. The flooding, backed up septic tanks, and standing water are dangerously near to the precious water we use for our daily drinking, cooking and washing.
Other homes along the stream’s course are also being affected. One neighbor now has a duck pond, where there once was none. Another neighbor has a flooded crawl space that is nearly to the level of the floor. Some neighbors have standing water in their yards where there typically is none.
The city of Burien must not let another year go by without addressing and correcting this situation. The health and safety of not only the neighbors along the stream, but ultimately the greater issue of contributing to the pollution of the waterways fed by this stream is at risk.
We call upon Burien to:
- Take immediate steps to require the people who altered the stream to rectify the damage.
- Take immediate action to restore or require the developer to restore the wetlands.
- Investigate the possibility of the city funding sewer installation and other mitigations to the houses impacted by yearly flooding.
The city was informed a year ago about the water encroaching houses, flooding septic tanks, and not only polluting the flooded homes, but also polluting the stream that is the source of the flood waters. Every day the situation is unresolved, the city is culpable for the property damage and the pollution that is being ignored.
We see this as both a personal and environmental disaster, but also as a failure of the city to act equitably to flood and pollution issues in an often neglected neighborhood. Boulevard Park is a part of Burien but is often forgotten in favor of areas closer to the downtown core, the shoreline or Lake Burien. In a strange twist, we have our own little lake here now – not one we ever chose to have.
It has been a year, we have had heavy rains, and yet nothing has been done to mitigate the situation to protect property investments, and prevent flooding and pollution. City Manager Wilson says that Public Works is working on it. But it has been 2 years and the rains keep flooding our neighborhood. We need action before more damage is done.
Sincerely and with peace and love,
Burien residents in Boulevard Park
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