King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn introduced legislation last week to take a thorough look at system failures that led to the spilling of millions of gallons of untreated wastewater into Puget Sound and Lake Washington on Jan. 13, and issue a report offering a set of recommendations for preventing future wastewater spills. 

A rainstorm on Jan. 13 caused flooding and power outages throughout the Puget Sound region and led to a power failure at King County’s West Point Treatment plant in Discovery Park in Magnolia. The plant spilled 11 million gallons of untreated wastewater — including sewage, industrial toxins, stormwater runoff and other contaminants — into Puget Sound, according to a press release. An additional 2.4 million gallons of stormwater and sewage spilled into Lake Washington from other wastewater facilities.

This recent wastewater spill follows the February 2017 failure at West Point that resulted in 235 million gallons of untreated wastewater flowing into Puget Sound. Such spills are known to impact the marine environment and result in the closures of public beaches in the area.

The required report would outline the causes of the wastewater spills and overflows on Jan. 13; the consequences to Puget Sound and Lake Washington ecosystems; the potential impacts for waterfront landowners and facilities; a summary of emergency discharges at the West Point Treatment Plant since February 2017; and the recent and projected future pattern and frequency of storms that could generate wastewater volumes that would overwhelm the West Point and the pump stations. The report would also put forward a strategy to reduce future spills. This report would be due by Aug. 1.