King County officials are preparing to spend millions of dollars to find out what caused a recent wastewater disaster in Puget Sound.
The King County Council approved an emergency ordinance Monday to hire a third party to investigate why the West Point Treatment Plant failed in February.
More than 250 million gallons of untreated water have spilled into Puget Sound from the treatment plant near Discovery Park since the failure. The majority is stormwater, but a portion is raw or lightly treated sewage.
The county's Natural Resources and Parks Department already did a preliminary investigation into what happened and found that an electrical failure caused the initial flooding. The machine that tracks how much wastewater is in the building also failed, causing more to be discharged into the sound.
But County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl Welles said an in-house investigation was not enough. She calls the sewage discharge a catastrophe.
Kohl Welles: "The group that's had this catastrophic event and is still engaged in cleanup can make some assumptions, but we believe strongly that it needs to be an independent, third party review."
The county will hire an engineering firm to look into the plant failure in detail. Kohl Welles says in additional to equipment failures, she also wants to know if protocols were followed. The county parks department was also going to hire an outside party but now supports the council's plan.
The county estimates repairs to the West Point Treatment Plant will cost a minimum of $25 million.