The King County Council on Tuesday approved a $65 million funding package to make critical upgrades to the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant to prevent future bypass of untreated wastewater.
“I’m very pleased that the Council has approved this significant investment in the West Point Treatment Plant’s energy connections,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who sponsored the legislation. “Maintaining the power supply at the plant is integral to ensuring that equipment is operating well and that the emergency bypass system is not activated. This investment and the urgency shown by the Executive in addressing this problem is a good thing for the health of our region’s waters and the people, plants, and animals that call King County and beyond home.”
Key among the upgrades are improvements to provide more reliable on-site power supply. The most recent bypass – of 11 million gallons in January – was caused by an overnight power outage. To run at its peak capacity of 440 million gallons a day during peak storms, the facility requires about 10 megawatts of electricity – the equivalent of powering about 11,000 homes. Included in the funding is $3 million to analyze schedules and cost estimates if a dedicated power feed is needed at the plant.
Executive Dow Constantine also signed an emergency declaration that allows the Wastewater Treatment Division to quickly purchase services and equipment, which the Council ratified on March 9th. This earlier Council action provided for a two-year extension of that emergency declaration, to allow time for necessary work to be completed.
Kohl-Welles has been outspoken about the dangers of continued overflows of untreated wastewater into Puget Sound, leading the Council on legislation passed as a result of the 2017 catastrophic failure of the plant, and in 2018 secured $400,000 for a study on the impacts of wastewater on orcas and fish.