Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County

Power outages last week caused a few of King County’s wastewater treatment facilities to spill more than 10 million gallons of untreated overflow into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, according to the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

An early morning windstorm on Jan. 13 brought excessive rainfall and wind gusts over 50 mph in some places, leading to regional flooding and power outages for hundreds of thousands of Western Washington residents.

According to the department, a combination of pump station failures caused by power outages and increased rainwater runoff created flooding overflows at the West Point Treatment Plant, Richmond Beach Pump Station, East Pine Pump Station and Medina Pump Station.

While 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, according to the department.

King County estimated that approximately 20% of the more than 10 million gallons of untreated water that overflowed into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington was sewage, and 80% was stormwater.

Initially, King County closed a handful of beaches including Richmond, Medina, Golden Gardens, Carkeek and Madrona beaches out of caution. The county announced on Jan. 16 that consecutive days of water quality testing revealed the beaches to be safe. Discovery Park was reopened on Jan. 18.

King County has notified public health and regulatory agencies, according to the press release, and has posted signs at beaches warning people to avoid contact with the water over the next several days as a precaution to protect public health.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
Do you need to pay for your COVID hospital stay?

Washington state law requires hospitals to provide free care for certain income brackets.

Stock photo
State AG Ferguson leads effort supporting local journalism

Federal legislation offers tax credits to subscribers, businesses and news organizations

C-17 at Joint Base Lewis McChord airstrip (courtesy of United States Military)
King County councilmember proposes program to aid transition of Afghan interpreters who served the U.S. overseas

Program would provide job training and learning opportunities for Afghan interpreters and advisors.

Vaccinations taking place. File photo
Inslee: No ‘massive disruptions’ as worker vax rates hit 90%

A surge in vaccinations has eased concern about service slowdowns ahead of a Monday deadline.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert (file photo)
Lambert removed from King County Council leadership roles

Lambert received backlash after her campaign used flyers that depicted her opponent as a puppet.

Union members picket in front of new Facebook campus in Redmond on Sept. 16 (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Northwest Carpenters Union members vote to accept contract with AGC

The agreement comes after weeks of striking.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert (file photo)
After doubling down on “racist” flyer, Lambert publicly apologizes

Apology encouraged by King County Council colleagues.

Pixabay image
School psychologist among three charged with immoral communication with a minor

Redmond detectives conducted an online predator sting using fake profiles.

Courtesy of King County Police Officers Guild
Office lacks power over King County law enforcement in misconduct investigations

Director Tamer Abouzeid presents OLEO annual report to law and justice committee on Tuesday.

Most Read