Damage estimate soars to $57M, but insurers likely to pay in flood at West Point wastewater plant – Seattle Times

The real damage is likely to not be known for decades. That’s the effect on our fisheries and underwater world from this massive, unprecedented spill that in effect, brought Seattle to the 1920s all over again dumping untreated sewage into the Sound for months.

The new price tag for the catastrophic Feb. 9 flood that crippled the West Point Treatment Plant is up to $57 million — more than double the previous estimate. But taxpayers may be off the hook for most of it. The Wastewater Treatment Division, in a letter Friday to the Metropolitan King County Council, updated its initial estimate of $25 million in damage, stating major repairs and replacement of equipment will continue through October and cost $49 million to $57 million. Christine Willmsen reports. (Seattle Times)


As sewage still spills, no timeline for fix to treatment plant’s Katrina-scale damage – Seattle Times

This is an incredibly bad situation. We are going to be dumping the entire sewage of Seattle into Puget Sound with only screening of primary solids for months.  I chalk this up as a Global Warming event, as the massive rains that  created this event, are consistent with the projections of increasing storm intensity in global warming scenarios.

It’s going to be a long road back to recovery for the crippled West Point wastewater-treatment plant in Seattle. A workhorse of the regional wastewater-treatment system, the plant is estimated to have sustained at least $25 million in damage in a flood Feb. 9 and cannot presently function properly. Recovery of the plant remains in very early stages. Damage had never occurred at the plant at such a scale. It has taken Hurricane Sandy or Katrina-scale damage to produce similar wreckage elsewhere in the country. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)


Ambitious Brightwater sewage project now online after long effort–Seattle Times

This relates to us on the Peninsula, because Seattle and it’s environs has been putting billions of gallons of treated sewage into the Sound for decades, without clearly understanding it’s long term affects on salinity, pollution load, etc. Relatives of mine who have lived in Indianola since the late 20s’ claim that the beach has become a shadow of it’s former self, with very little of the great clam beds that used to be there. No one understands why, but it isn’t out of the question that sewage and stormwater runoff have taken their toll. We just have no real scientific monitoring done over decades to clearly show what has happened. That is why the Puget Sound Partnership is worth funding. To do this on a long term basis.

I have been critical of the fact that we all use the Sound as our toilet bowl, regardless of whether it is treated sewage or not (i.e. Victoria).  We need the ability to put in composting toilets if we want to, and  other technological advancements.

In the meantime, Brightwater is going to put into the Sound at least highly cleansed water. The best thing it could do from here, is pipe it to all the golf courses needing water for the fairways, and for other non drinking uses. Maybe someday we’ll even see it used to fill toilet bowls, rather than our ongoing use of fresh drinking water for that.

In a milestone for clean water, the new Brightwater treatment plant has begun work after more than a decade in the making and nearly $2 billion invested in the project. The plant began treating sewage and discharged some of the first treated effluent into Puget Sound at the beginning of the month. The plant is so effective it is producing water 30 times cleaner than required under its state permit, and clean enough to use as reclaimed water. Lynda Mapes reports.

Read the whole story at the Seattle Times:


Gates Foundation Launches Effort to Reinvent the Toilet

Sometimes I have found myself oddly agreeing with radical anti-environmentalists. One place that happened was in a discussion on sewage. A woman who opposed all environmental protections had stood up and yelled that “we” should all figure out a way to stop dumping our sewage in the Sound first. I told her I’d love to have her help us figure that out and would gladly support that idea. I have felt that the real solution to our problems with Puget Sound is not “dilution”, but  to stop using the Salish Sea as our toilet bowl. Maybe the efforts of the Gates Foundation to bring sanitation to the third world with new toilets that don’t need water, can eventually lead to us finding a way out of this 19th century habit of pouring our waste into our rivers and waterways.

Crazy? Well people thought that we could never see an end to nuclear war, or DDT. Nuclear war was avoided and DDT is no longer used in the US. Eagle populations returned. So, if we can put a funny looking rover on Mars, we can do this folks. We need to.  Here’s a salute to Bill Gates for thinking out of the box, and doing something to help us get out off the toilet. Pun intended.


New strategy promotes adoption of safe, affordable sanitation in the developing world

KIGALI, Rwanda — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced the launch of a strategy to help bring safe, clean sanitation services to millions of poor people in the developing world.
In a keynote address at the 2011 AfricaSan Conference in Kigali, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation’s Global Development Program, called on donors, governments, the private sector, and NGOs to address the urgent challenge, which affects nearly 40 percent of the world’s population. Flush toilets are unavailable to the vast majority in the developing world, and billions of people lack a safe, reliable toilet or latrine. More than a billion people defecate in the open.


Following the money on raw sewage discharge – Kitsap Sun

Excellent overview of the issue of the costs vs. benefits of spending to deal with combined sewage outflows. As Chris so clearly covers, if people would have known 20 years ago what they know now about Low Impact Development (LID) standards, we might have gotten these projects done for much less money.



Study confirms septic system problems in Hood Canal – Kitsap Sun

– This supports the work People For Puget Sound and others did a few years back to help get inspections for septic (even self inspections). – editor

4/12 Kitsap Sun
Study confirms septic systems as prime suspect in Hood Canal fish kills
By Christopher Dunagan

SEATTLE — Septic systems in Southern Hood Canal appear to play a pivotal role in the massive fish kills that plague the waterway, according to a long-awaited report by a team of scientists.

The scientists’ general findings about what causes oxygen to reach deadly levels in Hood Canal vary little from a description they provided in 2008. Since then, the group has conducted an extensive analysis, offering more precise estimates about the sources of nitrogen entering the waterway.

Their final conclusion is that roughly 20 percent of the nitrogen in Southern Hood Canal during summer months comes from septic systems. That is enough nitrogen to push oxygen levels into a critically low range and set up conditions for a massive fish kill in the fall.

More at

A spill in Port Ludlow…sewage this time

7/22 Peninsula Daily News
Valve error blamed for sewage spill that’s closed Port Ludlow Bay
By Charlie Bermant – Peninsula Daily News

PORT LUDLOW — Tuesday’s spill of 5,000 gallons of partially treated sewage into Port Ludlow Bay was because of a “routine operation that went awry,” said the president of Olympic Water and Sewer Inc. on Wednesday. The 1 p.m. spill prompted the Jefferson County Public Health Department to issue a health advisory forbidding any swimming until Friday. The spill occurred during a routine maintenance check after a valve did not close, said Olympic Water and Sewer president Larry Smith.
More at

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