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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: New Beacon Hill underground reservoir creates 26 acres of park land

6/25/2008  12:00:00 PM

New Beacon Hill underground reservoir creates 26 acres of park land
50-million-gallon reservoir enhances drinking water quality, provides greater security

SEATTLESeattle’s newest park is taking shape over water – our drinking water. The new 50-million-gallon Beacon Hill underground reservoir will be completed within the next few weeks, and city workers are preparing for the next phase of the project – turning the reclaimed ground into 26 new acres of park land.

“This work matches our desire for new parks with our need to cap and secure our reservoirs,” said Mayor Greg Nickels. “When it’s finished, this open space will be one of the city’s jewels – a place for sports, gardening and quiet contemplation.”

The two-year, $39.6 million Beacon Hill Reservoir covering project — which will be completed within weeks — will be followed by a one-year, $8 million reconstruction of Jefferson Park, taking advantage of the new land made available by putting the reservoir underground. Features of the rebuilt park will include:

  • A new play area, with traditional playground equipment and, in the future, logs and other natural attractions.
  • Two new tennis courts.
  • A meadow-like area, with an amphitheater for small events.
  • Sports fields.
  • A system of pathways that weave through the park in the style of the famous landscape architects, the Olmsted Brothers.
  • Enhanced scenic overlooks with breathtaking views of Seattle.
  • “1% for the arts” rain gardens by well-known local artist Elizabeth Conner.
  • Public restrooms, located in the middle of the park, central to all activities.
  • Community gardens.

The Beacon Hill Reservoir is the latest in Seattle’s ambitious plan to cover all of its water reservoirs. In 2002, Nickels proposed that the city’s six uncovered reservoirs be replaced with underground concrete structures — creating more than 70 acres of open space while addressing post-9/11 security and health concerns.

In 2006, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department completed work on Capitol Hill’s Lincoln Reservoir and, sitting atop it, the redesigned Cal Anderson Park — creating 3.8 acres of new public park land. The Myrtle and Beacon Hill Reservoirs, which will create 3.3 and 26 acres of open space respectively, will be completed this year.

The West Seattle Reservoir, with another 21.5 acres of potential park space, is scheduled for completion in 2010. Capping the Maple Leaf Reservoir, due to be completed by 2011, will result in another 15.7 acres of new park space. The proposed decommissioning of the Roosevelt Reservoir could create another 14.5 acres of park space as early as 2015.

Seattle drinking water is already treated to high standards prior to entering the reservoirs, but covering them makes public health and safety sense. Covered reservoirs are less prone to accidental contamination from natural sources, such as birds, and less accessible to the public.

Open reservoirs can grow algae that may produce poor tasting water, and water from open reservoirs must receive an additional level of chlorine treatment. In addition, open reservoirs must be periodically removed from service for cleaning. Covering reservoirs provides more protection, reduces maintenance, and helps ensure higher water quality.

In addition to providing a reliable water supply to more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the city’s infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region's environmental resources.

View Beacon Reservoir Fact Sheet - Acrobat PDF
View a map of the park - Acrobat PDF
Learn more about the project - Acrobat PDF

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