130,000 gallons of sewage spill into Puget Sound after power outage

130,000 gallons of sewage spill into Puget Sound after power outage

KING COUNTY, Wash. — A windstorm that struck Shoreline caused massive quantities of wastewater to overflow into Puget Sound on Friday, Dec. 14.

The windstorm caused a power outage at King County’s Richmond Beach Pump Station. That caused 130,000 gallons of sewage to overflow into Puget Sound.

Power was out at the pump station for approximately two hours. There were no ill effects in water quality found following the overflow.

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This isn't the first time something like this has been a problem in the Puget Sound region. Back in August 2018, the state fined King County $118,000 for wastewater overflows.

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Amy Jankowiak, regional compliance coordinator for municipal wastewater treatment plants for the Washington State Department of Ecology, explained to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson in August that many of the nation’s older municipal sewer systems send rainwater along with raw sewage into area bodies of water.

This is true for Seattle and much of King County around Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound. The local system uses "combined sewage overflows," which send the mixture out of the pipes and into lakes and Puget Sound.

In 2016, the Washington State Department of Ecology fined King County $63,500 for 23 violations that occurred over the previous year. The City of Seattle was also fined $33,500 for 10 violations from 2015.

After 250 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into Puget Sound in early 2017, the county was slapped with a $361,000 fine.

These overflows typically happen during heavy rain events when pipes become overwhelmed with stormwater. Over the last week, the region has been hit by a parade of storms causing power outages, making “heavy rain events” an almost daily occurrence.

Also affected by recent power outages was a state-run chinook salmon hatchery, where 6.2 million salmon fry died in incubators, after primary and backup generators failed.