Seattle Public Utilities issues apology to Carnation residents, will attend community meeting about false Tolt Dam failure system alarm

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) recently issued a letter to Carnation residents, stating it would attend a special [online] Carnation city council meeting at 7PM, August 3rd, to discuss this week’s accidental activation of the Tolt Dam failure system that triggered a [temporary] community-wide evacuation.

SPU said it will be sharing what it knows about the Tolt Dam Warning System’s false alarm that caused the loud siren system to sound for almost 40 minutes on Tuesday, July 28th.

SPU was apologetic for the confusion and fear the alarm system caused and said it is prepared to address community concerns and share information regarding the false alarm.

The City of Seattle owns and operates the Tolt Reservoir and dams which are located about 16 miles upstream from Carnation on the South Fork of the Tolt River.

The reservoir stores 57,900 acre-ft of water and supplies 30% of the Seattle’s drinking water.

Community members wanting to attend the special online council meeting can do so HERE.

Full letter to the Carnation community:

Seattle Public Utilities looks forward to attending the City of Carnation’s community meeting on Monday, August 3, when we will share what we know about the Tolt Dam Warning System’s false alarm that sounded for almost 40 minutes on Tuesday.

We sincerely apologize for the confusion and fear caused by the false alarm. We will address your concerns and share with you what information we have as to what happened.

On Tuesday, when we determined within a few minutes that there was no breach of the Tolt Dam, staff attempted to disable the alarm but the computer system would not allow it. It took a few tries before the alarm stopped sounding.

We have heard from many of you in the community, upset and frustrated by what you experienced.

At the meeting, you will hear from us about the steps we are taking to prevent something like this from happening again. We will also talk about how we are working with our partner agencies like the City of Carnation to improve communications.

Your safety and wellbeing are of the highest priority to us. Dam safety monitoring was never interrupted during the incident and we continue to monitor the dam 24/7, using technology such as cameras and sensors installed along the Tolt Dam.     

Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you on Monday.


Seattle Public Utilities 

SPU South Tolt River Dam. Photo: City of Carnation Facebook

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