Beaches closed after leak dumps untreated sewage into Puget Sound

Feb 20, 2017, 5:03 AM
Some beaches closed after millions of gallons of untreated sewage was dumped into the Puget Sound m...
Some beaches closed after millions of gallons of untreated sewage was dumped into the Puget Sound more than a week ago. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The sound of the waves hitting the shore has Xiulan Yang, her husband and their 15-month-old son escaping to Magnolia’s Discovery Park any chance they get.

“You don’t have to drive far away but you still have plenty of nature here,” Yang said.

Related: Damaged Seattle wastewater plant continues to dump raw sewage

A KIRO 7 crew noticed the Yangs getting pretty close to the water. The crew broke the news to them that the beach was closed after millions of gallons of untreated sewage was dumped into the Puget Sound when the West Point Treatment Plant in the neighborhood flooded more than a week ago.

“We were kind of surprised,” Yang said. “I guess I heard about the sewage leakage last week but I wasn’t expecting the beaches closed.”

Part of the problem is that there are few signs along this stretch of the beach. There’s one at a parking lot — where drivers turned their cars around when they realized they couldn’t get in.

The members of the KIRO 7 crew saw another sign where they parked their car before walking down to the beach, but it was pretty small and could easily be overlooked. The closest sign after that was about a quarter mile down the path toward the lighthouse and then another one 100 yards out.

“We walk this place all the time,” Scott Livingston said.

Livingston and his wife, Susun, think the signage could be better.

“It does say water contaminated, but it looks familiar. It doesn’t look unfamiliar for you to stop and say, ‘There is a difference here,'” Susun Livingson said.

But there was nothing “familiar” about the failure at the treatment plant that officials say caused “catastrophic damage.”

“The other problem is they are very dense, so the normal person isn’t going to read them in any depth,” Susun Livingston added.

The KIRO 7 crew didn’t see anyone in the water while it was there. The Livingston’s say they’ve noticed people have been staying out.

“I’m kind of happy it happened during the winter because it reduces the amount of traffic on the beach,” Scott Livingston said.

But it’s still too close to comfort for Yang. She said she would have had second thoughts walking along the shore with her family had she seen the signs.

The spill is causing closures at other beaches in addition to Discovery Park. Golden Gardens in Ballard is closed, along with Indianola Dock and Fay Bainbridge Park, both of which are in Kitsap County.

There’s no date for reopening.

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Beaches closed after leak dumps untreated sewage into Puget Sound