Background

Existing culverts in poor structural condition

The 45th Avenue SW and California Avenue SW culverts, located along Fauntleroy Creek in West Seattle, are approximately 100 years old and in extremely deteriorated structural condition. The culverts have deformed pipes, with roots intruding into the pipe and portions of pipe missing. These conditions increase the risk of backups and flooding, and the need for emergency maintenance response. Repairing these culverts is not a viable strategy due to their age and condition. Instead, the culverts must be fully replaced to reduce risk of culvert failure and mitigate storm-related flooding.

Existing culverts are barriers to fish passage

The culverts at 45th Avenue SW and California Avenue SW also prevent fish passage in Fauntleroy Creek. While the middle and upper reaches of Fauntleroy Creek may not currently support a significant population of fish, stream conditions in these sections have been characterized as viable fish habitat by SPU fish biologists, independent consultants, and biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Fauntleroy Creek watershed is in better condition than most of the City's urban streams with good water quality, a relatively high amount of forest canopy cover, the protection of City ownership for most of its area, and the incredible stewardship of property owners adjacent to the creek as well as community members who frequent the upper watershed trail system and park.

Based on stream surveys, nearly all of the mainstem of the creek, up into Fauntleroy Park was identified as "Type F" waters. This means fish-bearing or capable of supporting fish. New culverts on Type F waters need to be designed to meet state and federal requirements for fish passage. New culverts would be sized based WDFW Stream Crossing Guidelines to meet fish passage criteria, which will likely require a larger size for the culvert replacements.

Restoring fish passage is critical to support Tribal treaty rights

Many Tribal nations signed treaties in the 1800s which granted them perpetual rights to hunt and fish in their usual and accustomed areas. These treaties were based on a presumption that our government would be a caretaker and steward of these lands such that fish would remain plentiful.

Today fish are not plentiful in our urban creeks and hundreds of barriers prevent fish from getting access to available habitat. By restoring fish passage, SPU can support Tribal rights and start to make meaningful progress on this important race and social justice issue.