Sabey Addresses Tukwila Flood Concerns

This map from the City of Tukwila, Wash. shows the location of the Sabey Intergate.East data center complex in relation to areas facing potential flooding this fall (diagonal lines).

This map from the City of Tukwila, Wash. shows the location of the Sabey Intergate.East data center complex in relation to areas facing potential flooding this fall (diagonal lines).

Public officials in Tukwila, Wash. are preparing for potentially serious flooding in the Seattle suburb, but the owner of a major data center complex in town says its facilities are outside the threatened area. Sabey Corp., which operates the Intergate.East Technology Campus, says the development will remain “high and dry” in any flooding related to problems with the Howard Hanson dam.

The dam was damaged during heavy rainfall last winter, prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to restrict water levels behind the dam. This will increase the volume of water in the Green River, raising the possibility that seasonal fall rains could overtop the levees and flood sections of Tukwila, Renton, Kent, South Seattle and Auburn.  

Microsoft Among Tenants
Intergate.East is home to data centers for Microsoft and Internap and is separated from the Green River by Highway 599, which is expected to serve as a buffer for any flood waters. Sabey addressed the issue in a letter to tenants (PDF) last month.

“We are pleased to confirm what we have always believed, that Intergate.East is not in danger of flooding from any increased water flows in the Green and Duwamish Rivers,” wrote Sabey, which also has published a map from the City of Tukwila documenting the potential flood zones.

“The property is outside the projected flood areas in both the FEMA Flood Area Maps and the Corp of Engineers Inundation Flood Maps,” it continued. “Even under the Corp of Engineer’s projected worst case scenarios, Intergate.East remains well above the flood level and away from any levee areas, safe from the Green River’s influence on the Duwamish.” Sabey also said that Intergate.East would not be at risk if the Hanson Dam failed completely.

State of Emergency for King County
Other areas businesses and residents may not be so lucky. As many as 26,000 residents may need to be evacuated in the case of a levee breach, according to King County officials, who have already declared a state of emergency to expedite work to reinforce the local levee system.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assesses the odds of a flood at 1-in-3. The state Transportation Department and State Patrol are identifying evacuation routes. A major flood could close state Route 167, which carries about 100,000 vehicles a day.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. The city of Tukwila's map (without the Sabey facility locater) can be found here (PDF). It doesn't purport to represent the 100 Year Floodplain. It is the city's representation to its residents of "Potential Flood Affected Areas" - which don't necessarily have to mirror the 100-year floodplain.