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County Council adopts steps to review operation of West Point Treatment Plant

Summary

50-year review and assessment of Strategic Management Plan

Story

The catastrophic failure at the West Point Treatment Plant that led to millions of gallons of untreated waste pouring into Puget Sound was the focus of two pieces of legislation unanimously adopted by the Metropolitan King Council at its June 12 meeting.

“A lot has happened since West Point came online over 50 years ago, including enormous population growth,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, whose district includes the West Point facility. “As West Point is the workhorse of our wastewater treatment system, it is essential to determine the effects of such changes on its current capacity and what needs to be done to ensure its viability for decades to come.”

On February 9, a breakdown at the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant during heavy storm flows caused the facility to discharge untreated wastewater/stormwater directly into Puget Sound. The facility is back online and is fully treating effluent prior to discharge.

The Council adopted legislation shortly after the failure calling for an independent investigation of the plant failure. The adopted motions are focused on the future operation of the facility and of the overall operation of King County’s wastewater treatment system.

One motion calls for the Executive to retain a consultant to review and evaluate the West Point Plant, which has been operating since 1966, to see what steps the County must take to ensure the facility meets the needs of the region over the coming decades. The motion asks for the report to address changes in the plant’s operating context such as population growth, climate change, processing demand and system vulnerabilities.

The second motion calls for a report updating the Wastewater Treatment Division’s Strategic Asset Management Plan, designed to ensure the County is appropriately focusing its equipment replacement and repair efforts to assure the proper operation of the regional wastewater treatment system. There were concerns raised after the initial review of the West Point Failure about issues related to maintenance, equipment failure, system design and other matters. The adopted motion calls for a review and report on the Strategic Asset Management Plan, to assess ways to modify and strengthen the Plan to address circumstances that became apparent in the investigation of the plant failure.
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