King County released preliminary findings Tuesday of what went wrong at the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. This February, an electrical failure there caused flooding and a massive dump of sewage into Puget Sound.
First, an electrical failure shut down the pumps that move treated wastewater into the sound. While electricians were trying to fix that, devices that measure how much raw sewage is in the plant also failed. Tanks filled up, and the plant flooded.
“At the time when this is happening, it happens so fast, we have to be able to rely on the equipment and all the automation to work under those circumstances,” says Christie True, the director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.
True says the plan is to have everything back up and running by April 30. In the meantime, she had a light-hearted request for Seattleites.
“It would be good if they would try to make the rain stop. I’m sure they would be happy to do that,” True said while meeting with reporters.
With the plant running at about half its normal capacity, too much rain could force another dump of raw sewage into the sound.