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Ah, s..., raw sewage in the Sound

Storms and equipment produced an epic leak

Joe Wolf

You may not want to hear it, but if you’re near the water you might want to know about it. The heavy rains and some equipment failures mean two separate events sent raw sewage into our waters.

West Point Treatment Plant was hit by a triple whammy. Waste and storm water flowing into the facility are record rates. Add in high tides and there was a risk the treatment plant would be flooded. About the same time there was an equipment failure. An emergency bypass mode kicked in and sent sewage straight into the Sound, by design. At least it wasn’t just dumped on the beach. The system is designed to discharge the excess a quarter mile off-shore and 240 feet deep.

The Medina Pump Station was luckier. It didn’t have to deal with tides and the equipment operated correctly, but so much rainwater came in that they also had to dump the overflow. That means Lake Washington has some of the same issues to watch.

The good news is that most of these issues are temporary, and can even be taken as a sign that systems work as designed, even when they fail. According to the Seattle PI, it takes at least two days for the bacteria to die off. In the meantime, if you have waterfront property along the Sound or Lake Washington in the vicinity of the events, you probably want to stay out of the water for a while (there’s always at least one hardy swimmer out there.) Fishing should probably be put on hold for a while as well.