Hawkins Prepares Legislation to Address Tolt Dam False Alarms

[Guest Post by Sen. Brad Hawkins]

Senator Brad Hawkins of the 12th Legislative District (R-Wenatchee), who represents the City of Carnation, has prepared legislation related to Tolt Dam false alarms and financial penalties. Hawkins has circulated the bill’s language with city officials and community members.

Carnation residents have suffered multiple faulty alarm incidents associated with the Tolt River Dam, owned by the City of Seattle and operated by Seattle Public Utilities. The most recent false alarm, notifying the community of a catastrophic dam failure and flood, is approximately the eighth incident in four years.

 Senator Hawkins and Carnation residents are extremely frustrated with the situation.

“Everyone I have communicated with, including Seattle Public Utilities, has said what is happening is unacceptable,” said Hawkins. “Since it continues to occur and cause trauma to the community, this bill seems like the only tool available to deter future occurrences and mitigate emotional impacts.”

The legislation proposes a new section of the law, imposing a $1 million financial penalty on Seattle Public Utilities for each false alarm occurrence. The funds collected from these penalties would be allocated for crucial purposes such as road improvements, emergency evacuation preparations, mental health counseling, and other community activities, directly benefiting the residents of Carnation.

“The City of Carnation has worked closely with Seattle since the first major false alarm in 2020 when the city evacuated in the span of one hour.  The trauma continues due to Seattle’s inability to properly manage the alarm system,” said Mayor Jim Ribail. Furthermore, the Mayor shared, “We have met with Seattle Deputy Mayor Lowe, we have presented to the Seattle City Council, we engage with Seattle staff every other week, and we are exactly where we were in 2020.”

Carnation City Manager Ana Cortez stated, “Due to Seattle’s inability to properly supervise staff and contractors, we have requested a full shutdown of the alarm system. We are periodically communicating with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and given the seriousness of this pattern of neglect, FERC has required specific mitigation measures from Seattle.”

You can view the prepared legislation HERE.

~Brad Hawkins serves as State Senator for the 12th District.

[Featured Image L to R: Carnation Mayor Jim Ribail (left) and Councilmembers Ryan Burrell (left center) and Adair Hawkins (right). Senator Hawkins (center)]

Comments are closed.


  • Better first check that there is not something else going on. Perhaps a review of the monitoring system focused on why the alarms have been triggered.

    The consequences of a true but ignored alarm suggest a cautious approach.

  • Living Snoqualmie