The Puget Sound Yacht Club was filled to capacity with floating home owners concerned about the low water level. Seattle FHA arranged for two representatives from the Corps of Engineers to come to the meeting and give us an update on the current water level and what we can expect. This was followed by a presentation of things we as a community should watch out for and set the stage for an open discussion on how we can collaborate with our neighbors to protect our homes.
Update on current and expected water levels.
Ken Brettmann, Senior Water Manager, and Bill Dowell, Public Affairs Specialist, from the Corps of Engineers gave us an update on the situation and answered questions.
Current Situation: Water level is at the normal winter low of 20ft
Expectation: It is estimated that it will continue to drop another foot to a 19ft level.
This level is estimated to be 5” lower than we experienced in 1987.
Key points to keep in mind
- The Corps can only control outflow and unless it starts raining we cannot expect much inflow.
- The Corps has a federal mandate to keep the lake level at a maximum of 22ft to keep from flooding shore services.
- The Corps keeps water no lower than 20ft (during winter months) but they have to keep locks working for commerce and allow endangered fish to transit the lock.
Community Suggestions for What to Do
Ed Waddington gave a presentation on the variety of situations that we as floating home owners should watch out for and introduced solutions.
- First, work with your dock neighbors as a community to solve specific problems on your dock.
- Share your discussion about problems and solutions on the FHA Facebook page.
- Check your electric, water, sewer, cable and gas lines. If lines are getting stretched call your utility or local business to make adjustments.
- Check businesses listed on seattlefloatinghomes.org and if you find other contractors who can help post them on Facebook.
- Work with dock members to understand the sewer system.
- Make sure you have back check valves in sewer lines.
- If you are on a gravity feed system to your primary tank you may have to add a personal sump tank and pump to transfer to your dock’s primary sump tank.
- Be proactive and consider having divers check how high you are floating above the bottom.
- Work with your flotation service to design a plan for what to do now and when the water level rises.
- Lighten up. Your house is a boat, if you take weight off it floats higher. Rent a storage unit and temporarily move things off until water comes back. Books, plants, heavy furniture, and appliances may need to be removed or adjusted.
- Work with your dock to see if it is possible and makes sense to temporarily move your house further away from the shore to deeper water.
- If grounded talk to flotation service about adding flotation to keep your home balanced and then remove it when the water level rises.
- Be ready to have crushed barrels replaced as water level increases.
- If for any reason your house becomes uninhabitable start considering plans for alternative housing.
- Contact you insurance company and discuss coverage.
- Time is short to act this year and many solutions may be short term. It is time to start looking at long term plans.
Floating home owners have historically overcome many obstacles by working together as a community. Now, as always, we are in this together. Use dock meetings to analyze problems and solutions. Utilize the FHA Facebook page as a way to communicate your problems and solutions with other docks.
Seattle Floating Homes Association: http://seattlefloatinghomes.org/
Seattle Floating Homes Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FloatingHomesAssociation?fref=ts
SPU Water/Sewer Emergency: 206 386-1800
PSE Gas/Electric Emergency: 888 225-5773
Aqua Dive Services – James Hicks email@example.com 206.782.0157
Flotation Services – Greg Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org 425.652.0205
Chuck Murray – email@example.com 206.709.4292