The King County Council’s Regional Water Quality Committee on Wednesday received a key report recommending electrical upgrades, strategies to adjust back-up power and more to prevent future wastewater spills like the failure that led to the spilling of millions of gallons of untreated wastewater into Puget Sound and Lake Washington on January 13, 2021.
The report identified that between the East Pine Pump Station, Medina Pump Station, the Richmond Beach Pump Station and the West Point Treatment Plant, over 17,000,000 gallons of untreated wastewater have been accidentally spilt into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington since May 2017.
Some of the causes cited for the spillovers include power disturbances and failures, increased stormwater levels, and operator error.
According to the report, these wastewater spills can potentially cause ecosystem damage as well as adverse human health impacts due to high levels of dangerous fecal bacteria. Many beach closures have been enacted in the region as a result of some of these spills.
While certain shellfish and fishing areas have been closed down due to “general pollution concerns,” the authors of the report claim that no additional impact to those shellfish resources along the King County shoreline occurred from one of the largest spills in years during the January 12th and 13th discharges which collectively released tens of millions of gallons of wastewater into the marine ecosystems.
The report also claims that these discharges did not cause any long-term ecological damage.
Upgrade recommendations in the report estimate the costs of improving the facilities to cost more than $70 million collectively with increased ongoing maintenance costs as well.
“This is a good step forward to implementing the needed changes to care for our region’s waters, including the Puget Sound,” said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who sponsored the report. “It’s important that King County acts as a good steward by taking the steps necessary to prevent wastewater spills, which have been all too common.”
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