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.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Mayor Jim Ferrell pictured in Nov. 2020. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Federal Way Mayor seeking re-election

Jim Ferrell has served as mayor since 2014.

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. File photo
Encouraging numbers for kokanee salmon spawn count

Lake Sammamish kokanee aren’t out of the woods by any stretch, but… Continue reading

In this file photo, Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20, 2020, in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

File photo
Study shows Washingtonians exceeded ‘heavy drinking’ threshold in 2020

The survey suggests Washingtonians drank more than 17 alcoholic beverages a week on average.

Mercer Island School District first-graders returned to in-person classes on Jan. 19, 2021. Here, Northwood Elementary School students head into the building. Photo courtesy of the Mercer Island School District
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Malden, after a wildfire burned down 80% of the town’s buildings in Eastern Washington. Courtesy photo
DNR commissioner seeks $125 million to fight wildfires

In Washington state last September, some 600,000 acres burned within 72 hours.

A flag raised at half-staff in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Federal Way surpasses 100 COVID-19 deaths

As of March 1, 102 virus-related deaths have been recorded.

Washington State Supreme Court Justices (back row, L-R) Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary I. Yu, G. Helen Whitener, (front row, L-R) Susan Owens, Charles W. Johnson, Steven C. Gonzalez, Barbara A. Madsen and Debra L. Stephens.
Justices strike down Washington state drug possession law

Police must stop arresting people for simple possession.

A Federal Way Public Schools bus leaves Decatur High School on March 13, unknowingly the last day students would be in school for the 2019-2020 school year. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
FWPS postpones in-person learning by one week

District to dedicate one week to transition activities, return to classrooms set for March 15.

Most Read