Skepticism meets assurance at meeting on wastewater treatment plant
Members of the public got a chance to ask questions about the equipment breakdown at the West Point wastewater treatment plant in Seattle.
“Obviously February 9 was a pretty dark day for us,” Wastewater Treatment Division director Mark Isaacson said during a public meeting in Magnolia Saturday morning.
That dark day seems to be dragging on and causing residents to question the future of the West Point Treatment Plant.
Last month, heavy rains knocked out power to the pumps.
“It wasn’t until we actually saw water overflowing that we knew. Then we did a manual shutdown,” plant operations and maintenance manager Robert Waddle said.
Even so, millions of gallons of sewage and storm water flowed into the plant and into Puget Sound.
“As director, I’m responsible for what happened at the plant and I’m responsible for fixing it,” said Isaacson, who took the position in the fall.
He reassured residents crews are restoring the plant, not just making repairs.
“Those float switches? We’re replacing them. And we’re looking at other ones that might need similar replacements,” Isaacson said.
Magnolia’s Gretchen Taylor said she appreciated his taking responsibility, “but gosh, accountability is still in question.”
“I didn’t feel satisfied that they have a sense of all of the scenarios that would prevent this in the future,” Taylor said.
While others at the meeting lined up with concerns about impact to beaches, wildlife and water, especially when the weather warms up.
“We’re going to have photosynthesis going on, and we're going to have more nutrients in the water,” Chris Wilke, executive director of Puget Sound Keeper, said.
A county marine biologist addressed it: “There are no increase in nutrients that we can see.”
The county says further monitoring is necessary, but first crews need to get the plant full operational. The goal is to complete this by April 30.
Meeting goers questioned why it would take more than another month.
Isaacson explained equipment that heats and decomposes solid waste are still not functional yet. At the moment, the secondary system that cleans out many solids is in abeyance because there is nowhere for the waste to go.