Just as the weather starts to warm up, Bitter Lake is closing down. Seattle Public Utilities is investigating the possibility raw sewage has been pouring into the lake for nearly a decade.
On the banks of the lake in North Seattle, Darrell Verrier reels in another catch of the day: “They stock it with trout and they’re yummy.”
Only problem is he’s unknowingly hooked into something much bigger than his couple of eight-inch trout.
“Well that would explain the swampy flavor,” he said with a laugh.
But the problems on Bitter Lake are serious. Raw sewage has been flowing into the lake, and not just for a couple of days.
“It’s possible it’s been going on eight years,” said Ellen Stewart with Seattle Public Utilities.
That's right, eight years. By Joyce Johanson's estimates that amounts to: “Three feet of guts, poop whatever you want to call it at the bottom of the lake. A guy got caught in it the other day, we thought we were gonna lose him!”
Seattle Public Utilities is testing samples to measure just how much poop is polluting the lake. But they do know where it came from-- the Nelson Apartments just up the street, which were built eight years ago. The utility thinks someone connected the sewage line to the storm drain.
“There’s been sewage getting into our storm water system which discharges into bitter lake,” said Stewart.
For years Joyce Johansen has noticed her once clear lake become a murky shade of green.
“I wouldn't put my toe in it. We see things floating in here," she said.
The warning signs are now posted. No swimming, no wading, which is why Darrell Verrier's trip to the lake is now strictly catch and release.
The apartment building that is the suspected source of all of this passed inspection back when it was built eight years ago. The building owner has been cited and had no comment.