An equipment failure at one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the northwestern part of Washington State is dumping millions of gallons of untreated raw sewage into Puget Sound. An equipment failure at 2 a.m. on Thursday at the West Point Treatment Plant was the immediate cause. Had they not bypassed the plant, the wastewater would have backed up into the plant and either destroyed or damaged the equipment. Officials are still investigating the cause of the equipment failure but it did happen during heavy rains that coincided with a very high tide.

The raw wastewater was gushing into the Sound through an outfall three-quarters of a mile from shore at a depth of 240 feet. (The pipes pump out about 440 million gallons in a 24-hour period, of which 10-20 percent is untreated sewage.) By late Thursday afternoon, managers were using the regional treatment system to divert as much flow as possible from West Point Treatment Plant. Although crews will be working around the clock, officials have no idea when operations will return to normal.

Signs at Discovery Park will be posted to warn people to stay away from the water for at least two days (the amount of time it takes bacteria from the untreated sewage to die off) and that includes fishing.

There was also a smaller sewer overflow reported, this one into Lake Washington, from the Medina Pump Station. It too was overwhelmed by large volumes of heavy rain that exceeded the capacity of the pump station. People will also be advised to avoid contact with water in Lake Washington, as well.

Source: KOMO News