For years, beachgoers at Alki and Seacrest Park in Seattle have been rinsing off using showers. Some were surprised to find the Seattle Parks Department turned the water off this week.
It turns out an inspection revealed the showers and a fish cleaning station were draining directly into Puget Sound.
"This is sort of a big deal because it's a public health problem," said Sandy Howard at the State Department of Ecology. "This is water that needs to be going into a sewer system and treated."
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A temporary fix is in the works while a permanent fix is prepared.
"We'll be implementing some treatment, vitamin C, carbon filters are a good source of treatment for the chlorine and then we'll be putting up some signage to alert people that they can't be putting soap into that drain, they can't be cleaning anything that might be using chemicals," explained Ellen Stewart, source control manager with Seattle Public Utilities, which cited the pollution.
The showers at Alki Beach are operational again on Wednesday and Seacrest Park will be working on Thursday.
"It points out a problem I have, which is the silo-ed nature of how our city operates where one department is closing something down, the other department is stuck with the result of it and doesn't have a chance to come up with a quick solution," Mayor Ed Murray said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The mayor said the issue was at the top of his agenda during a meeting with his executive team Wednesday morning.
"These are two city departments. We should sort this out. We should have had a plan in place and coordinated it ahead of time. This is something that didn't have to happen," said Murray.
Eventually, the Parks department will connect the showers and fish cleaning stations to the sewer system.
MyNorthwest.com's Stephanie Klein contributed to this report.