Councilmembers want a timeline for wastewater treatment plant repairs

West Point wastewater treatment plant in Seattle.
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King County Councilmembers expressed frustration Wednesday over repairs at the damaged West Point wastewater treatment plant.

During an update hearing, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division would not provide Councilmember Rod Dembowski with a timeline for when the facility could be fully restored.

“What I think I heard you say is you don't know yet. You're trying to figure out when, but you don't know,” Dembowski said.

“We have a very good estimate right now, but we want to do additional work to make sure,” said Mark Isaacson, division director, who is overseeing repairs.

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“Subject to the additional work, what is it you have today?” Dembowski then asked.

“I'm really not prepared to say that right now,” Isaacson replied.

Crews are working around the clock trying to repair the plant, Isaacson said.

Wastewater flooded the building on February 9 after the pumps failed during a period of heavy rain and runoff. The torrent of sewage submerged some parts of the plant under several feet of waste and destroyed thousands of pieces of equipment, including motors.

A primary sewage treatment system is now up and running, but a secondary system, which removes more waste and particles from the water, is still offline, and the outflow going into Puget Sound does not meet state and federal standards.

“It’s frustrating, I'll tell you, to be a member, a leader of this government, and for our own wastewater treatment division director to have data, who, even with a caveat, he's unwilling to share with the oversight board, and I’ll just express that frustration,” Dembowski said during the meeting.

Plant managers say they don't want to set an expectation that cannot be met, but the council argues it's trying to plan for costs and possible environmental fines.