'The time for excuses ... is over:’ Carnation city leaders meet with Seattle over Tolt Dam, warning system

After 60 years of bearing the risks of living beneath the Tolt Dam, the City of Carnation is demanding community benefits from the city of Seattle.

"After historically being a silent partner, the City of Carnation will now be an active partner in project management, safety operations, and strategic communication," says City Manager Ana Cortez.

On Friday, the City of Carnation met with representatives from Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office to advocate for Carnation residents. The topic: The Tolt Dam, which is owned and operated by the City of Seattle along with its warning system.

As FOX 13 has reported, should the dam break, it would cause catastrophic damage to Carnation and force city-wide evacuation if it ever were to break.

The Tolt Dam Early Warning System project has been a point of contention between the City of Carnation and the City of Seattle. There have been a handful of false alarms over the past three years, prompting Carnation to adopt a State of Emergency Declaration this past August.

A few months later, the newly installed siren system caused another wave of public outcry due to volume and clarity concerns.

(File / FOX 13)

"The time for excuses and explanations is over," said Carnation Mayor Jim Ribail. "Carnation wants to see outcomes."

The City of Carnation compiled a list of demands and presented it to Seattle city officials. It’s calling the list "community benefits" and monetary fines.

Carnation wishes to see annual compensation attached to the risks associated with the dam. Franchise fees, mitigation fees, false alarm fines, and funding for annual evacuation drills have been asked of the City of Seattle.

Community benefits being discussed include access to mental health resources, environmental sustainability, road infrastructure to facilitate evacuation, and funding for emergency operations personnel in the City of Carnation. 

City Manager Cortez reported that Seattle Mayor Harrell’s office was open and receptive to hearing Carnation's concerns. 

As for the dam alarm system, the city of Carnation is consulting with experts on the feasibility of testing the alarm once a month in lieu of the current once a week testing. 

FOX 13 has learned talks between the two cities will continue.