The damaged West Point plant is functioning this weekend — without the overflows that polluted Puget Sound during severe rainstorms twice this month.
Despite some weekend drizzle, the damaged West Point regional sewer plant is avoiding the sorts of emergency overflows that polluted Puget Sound twice this soggy month, managers say.
Incoming sewage is undergoing “limited wastewater treatment,” according to an update by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which operates the facility in Seattle’s Magnolia area.
Managers say the facility flooded and sustained catastrophic equipment damage early Feb. 9, and wound up releasing raw sewage along with a greater volume of street stormwater runoff. That happened again early Wednesday for seven hours as 1.6 inches of rain fell in the city that day. Beaches at Discovery Park and Golden Gardens remain closed this weekend as a health precaution.
Since then, West Point has operated at half its 450 million-gallon daily capacity. That’s still enough for normal weather, but some electrical controls and treatment equipment remain damaged, and could take weeks to fix. Solids are being screened out, while the rest is disinfected with chlorine, then dechlorinated before pouring into Puget Sound.
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“This disinfection is very important from a public-health standpoint,” said Christie True, county natural resources director. “When we get the full plant underway, we won’t have to use as much chlorine to disinfect the water.” Chlorine, which is toxic, is neutralized by pouring in sodium bisulfate, she said.
About 40 workers were repairing or decontaminating the plant Saturday, the county said.
National Weather Service forecasts call for rain the next two days, but county officials don’t expect enough to overwhelm the system. Total rainfall this month is about 7.9 inches, more than twice the city’s February average and closing in on the record of 9.11 inches.
A stormwater surge in Seattle’s lowland South Park neighborhood damaged one apartment building, True said. The problem is not related to the West Point plant.
The apartment building’s small side sewers, in an unorthodox arrangement, were directly connected to a big county sewer main, which filled and pushed sewage back toward the building, True said.
Residents are staying in motels while contractors clean the apartments, all at county expense, she said.