On February 9th, 2017, during a peak rain event, one of the primary pumps failed in the West Point Treatment Plant, which is located next to Discovery Park in Magnolia. This triggered a chain of events that eventually led to millions of dollars in flood damage to the plant, untreated waste water flowing into the Puget Sound for a little over a week, and risked the health and safety of plant operators as well as Seattle residents.
Following this catastrophic flood at the West Point Treatment Plant, I led the council in taking decisive action to ensure that we fully understood the causes of the events as well as the necessary steps in order to ensure that an event like that never again endangered the health and safety of citizens, employees, and the Puget Sound.
At the Council’s directive, AECOM conducted an independent third-party review of the actions and conditions that led to the February 9th flood and subsequent damage. In July the Council was briefed on the conclusions of the independent investigation. Among the findings were that West Point is one of the most complex wastewater treatment plants in the country with aging infrastructure and little redundancy in systems. As a result, it requires highly trained leadership, extensive maintenance, and significant emergency management procedures—beyond what were already in place in February.
In June, I led the Council in the adoption of legislation to conduct a fifty-year review of the West Point Treatment Plant and evaluate what steps the county must take to ensure the facility meets the future needs of our region. In addition, we passed a second piece of legislation requiring the executive to develop a strategic asset management plan for the West Point Treatment Plant.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will introduce additional legislation to ensure that the findings and recommendations of the independent review are fully implemented. In addition, I have asked leadership in the Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) to ensure that they have the right tools in place for adequate training and to retain the most qualified employees at our most complicated plant.
As we prepare for this upcoming rainy season, I have been working in close cooperation with WTD leadership to ensure that the plant is well-prepared to prevent another catastrophic event like last year. I am pleased with the steps Wastewater has taken to restore the plant following February’s incident and appreciate that they have committed to implementing all of the recommendations of the independent review commissioned by the council as well as those from the Washington State Department of Ecology.
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