11 Million Gallons of Untreated Storm Water & Sewage Released in Puget Sound

Jan. 20, 2021

The release of the untreated storm water and sewage in Puget Sound caused widespread power outages.

The West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle, Washington State sent 11 million gallons of untreated storm water and sewage into Puget Sound on Jan. 14. 

According to the King County's wastewater treatment division press release, the release of the untreated storm water and sewage is a result of widespread power outages.

“Between midnight and 2 a.m., West Point experienced a series of voltage fluctuations causing in-plant pumping stations to shut down repeatedly,” said the press release. “While county field operators worked to get the pumps running consistently, operators were able to mitigate the amount of the overflow by controlling the partial closing of the emergency bypass gate. Equipment and operations worked as needed to protect the plant and employee safety from flooding.” 

All systems were back online within 2 hours.

Heavy rainfall overwhelmed the capacity of the county's Shoreline pump stations and flow volumes did the same at its Medina facility, sending overflows of 165,000 gallons and 80,600 gallons respectively into Puget Sound, reported Kitsap Sun.

Kitsap Public Health District issued health advisories along Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap shorelines. A no-contact advisory is in effect through Jan. 19 and a shellfish harvesting advisory is in effect through Feb. 2 as well. 

The 11 million gallons that flowed untreated from the West Point facility into Puget Sound was a mixture of 80% storm water and 20% sewage. According to the county, King County operates 48 pump stations and 25 regulator stations. 

When the issue arose, crews worked throughout the night to make sure they operated without issue. A total of 17 pump stations had to run on generator power throughout the storm before returning to utility power, added the county press release.

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Cristina Tuser

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