King County Courthouse Reopened After Closure Due To Broken Water Pipe

The crucial county government building in downtown Seattle was emptied of personnel and shuttered.

The King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle was completely shut down and evacuated on the morning of Sept. 27 due to a broken water main that caused the 100-year-old building to lose all water pressure.

The 12-story building, located in downtown Seattle, houses a variety of branches of King County government, including district and superior courts, the sheriff’s office, the prosecuting attorney’s office, and the county council. The building-wide loss of water pressure stemmed from a rupture on a water main—a pipe that provides water to the building—managed by Seattle Public Utilities. The location of the leak is outside of the building, according to a release from King County Superior Court.

“We lost all the pressure in the courthouse and obviously you can’t operate safely or hygienically if that happens, so we were forced to shut down the building,” said Barnaby Dow, a spokesperson for the King County Facilities Management Division.

According to Dow, the pipe first started leaking onto the street around 1 a.m., and staff arriving at the courthouse around 5:30 a.m. also noticed the runoff. Soon after that, the building lost all pressure.

He added that everyone has “left the facility” and that there was no internal flooding or damage to the courthouse itself. There was, however, reportedly some water runoff Jefferson Street, which runs along the building’s south end. Staff from both the county Facilities Management Division and Seattle Public Utilities are on the site.

Numerous court operations are being rescheduled to Friday or the following week. Jurors serving in King County Superior Court were asked not to come to the courthouse Friday and to return to the building on Monday, Oct. 1.

“Folks who are sitting on juries are being contacted by judges for respective rescheduling,” Dow said.

As to when the courthouse will open again, Dow said while they hope to have water pressure restored by Friday, they don’t have a definitive answer.

“Our latest estimate that we received from Seattle Public Utilities was that the repairs would take no more than a day,” he said. “We anticipate reopening tomorrow.”

Update (Sept. 27): The water main has been repaired and the courthouse will reopen on Sept. 28, according to King County Superior Court spokesperson Jamie Holter.