A sign at the southern end of Lincoln Park in West Seattle warns of potential wastewater overflows from the Barton Pump Station during heavy rain. Rain was not the culprit on Sunday, June 3, as an overflow occurred when a power outage shut down the pumping equipment.
UPDATE: Public beaches reopen after June 3 Barton Pump Station overflow
Update 2 for June 7
After a power outage on Sunday, June 3, shut down the Barton Pump Station pumping equipment, causing a wastewater overflow into Puget Sound, King County is reporting beaches closed during the week are now open.
Here are the details from the county:
County officials can remove beach closure signs warning people to avoid contact with the water near the Fauntleroy ferry terminal following Sunday’s sewage overflow from the Barton Pump Station in West Seattle.
Public Health Seattle & King County approved the reopening of the beaches late Thursday afternoon. Warning signs were posted at the Cove Beach Park boat launch and the public beach access at the intersection of Fauntleroy Way S.W. and S.W. Brace Point Drive.
Annie Kolb-Nelson with the KC Wastewater Treatment Division said they reported an overflow of 46,000 gallons of wastewater to the Department of Ecology, "although we believe a significant portion of the overflow was contained in the outfall pipe (due to a high tide at the time)."
Update 1 on June 4
Barton Pump Station overflow on June 3 due to power outage
Edit: The original headline had the wrong date of "May 3" instead of June 3. Our apologies for the error.
Annie Kolb-Nelson said the volume of Sunday's Barton Pump Station wastewater overflow into the Sound is still being investigated, but due to a high tide when it occurred, investigators hope the higher water levels actually kept some of the overflow inside the outlet pipe instead of fully releasing into the water.
Regarding beach closures, she said the overflow traveled south, so Cove Park and some public access that direction have signs posted telling people to steer clear of the water. King County Public Health will make the final determination on when signs can come down, and Kolb-Nelson said the criteria is based on two consecutive days of water testing showing safe levels of fecal chloroform. Investigators determined Lincoln Park beaches, to the north, are safe to use.
She said the closed beaches will remain so at least until Wednesday afternoon.
Kolb-Nelson said part of the upgrades to the Barton Pump Station include backup generators that will keep overflows from occurring during a power outage.
The King County Wastewater Treatment Division reports crews had to quickly respond to a Barton Pump Station overflow just south of the Fauntleroy ferry dock on Sunday, June 3.
"The overflow occurred after a power outage caused (a) pumping equipment shut down around 4:15 p.m.," Annie Kolb-Nelson with King County wrote in a press release. "Crews were able to restore normal operation and control the overflow within 65 minutes."
King County is still calculating how much wastewater dumped into Puget Sound during those 65 minutes, and Kolb-Nelson wrote "Tidal conditions will enable crews to employ submersible pumps to capture and return a significant amount of wastewater back to the pump station so it can be conveyed to the West Point Treatment Plant ..."
Public beaches near the pump station are expected to be closed while King County staff takes water samples and evaluates the extent of the overflow.
The overflow occurred on the doorstep of a major upgrade for the station, with construction expected to begin early this summer and last until mid-2015.
The county will replace outdated equipment, install backup generators (which would have helped in this case), and update the valve room to effectively move up to 33 million gallons of wastewater a day.
The Herald has reached out to King County for additional details on beach closures and the volume of the overflow. This story will be updated.