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Improvements, upgrades strengthen West Point Treatment Plant operations

Summary

King County continues making substantial progress on upgrades and improvements at West Point Treatment Plant, with all remaining repairs scheduled for completion by the end of 2017 at a substantially lower cost than originally projected. The plant has been fully operational and treating wastewater to required levels since May 12 following an early February equipment failure and flood. Insurance will cover repair costs minus a $250,000 deductible.

Story

Wet winter weather is coming, and King County’s West Point Treatment Plant is getting prepared by completing a number of upgrades and improvements recommended by an independent engineering review commissioned by the King County Council last spring.

Newly installed electrical feeds that add redundancy and brand new float switches with sensors to alert operators to potential problems will avert a repeat of the scenario that occurred on Feb. 9, 2017, when equipment failure during a storm led to severe flooding inside the plant. 

The February flooding damaged mechanical and electrical systems critical to maintain West Point’s delicate treatment process biology, crippling the plant’s ability to treat wastewater to the secondary level required under its state and federal permits. 

The Washington State Department of Ecology recently announced its decision to fine King County $361,000 for the period that West Point was out of compliance, though stepped up water quality monitoring showed no substantial water quality impairments.  

The plant has been fully operational and treating wastewater to its strict permit standards since May 12.

Though King County does not dispute the enforcement action, the utility plans to request Ecology consider directing funding to environmental projects within Puget Sound or near West Point. 

Additional repair and restoration work is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year, at a substantially lower cost than previously estimated. Original damage estimates reached as high as $57 million when there were still a number of uncertainties about the costs of replacing complex and highly specialized equipment, but have since been revised down to a range of $30 million to $35 million. Losses will be covered by insurance, minus a $250,000 deductible. 

“We’re now focused on long-term planning to address West Point’s biggest operational challenges, which include greater demand on the plant driven by population growth, urban development, and stronger storms resulting from climate change,” said King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director Christie True. “We’ll be working closely with our customer agencies as well as our County Council to keep them informed of our progress.”

Additional information about West Point is available online

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