The Lakehaven Water and Sewer District in south King County faces a $29,000 penalty from the Washington Department of Ecology for failing to meet pollution discharge limits in its water quality permit.
The violations occurred at the district’s Lakota Wastewater Treatment Plant in Federal Way between June 2015 and August 2016. The facility serves more than 70,000 people and discharges treated wastewater to Dumas Bay in central Puget Sound.
“The pollution limits in the plant’s permit protect public health and Puget Sound,” said Heather Bartlett, Ecology’s Water Quality Program Manager. “While the district is taking steps to fix the problems, the extent of the violations is the concern.”
The treatment plant informed Ecology of 29 violations in regular monitoring reports:
- Fecal coliform (13) – an indicator of bacteria and pathogens.
- Total suspended solids (9) – a measurement of fine-sized particles.
- Total residual chlorine (7) – a disinfectant.
Bacteria can place people’s health at risk, high solids can indicate turbidity which can harm fish gills, and chlorine can be toxic to aquatic life.
Actions to correct
The district saw only partial success with several steps taken to improve the plant’s performance, including:
- Adjustments to a chemical mixture added to improve the removal of suspended solids.
- Improvements in handling solids as they are removed from the wastewater.
- Adding chlorine disinfection -- and post-treatment de-chlorination -- to temporarily augment an aging ultraviolet light disinfection system.
The district is in the process of replacing the plant’s ultraviolet light disinfection system and continues with long-term improvement planning.
“The district takes its obligation to safeguard the environment very seriously,” said John Bowman, Lakehaven Water and Sewer District General Manager. “In addition to investing in substantial near-term infrastructure improvements to enhance plant performance, we remain committed to working closely with the Department of Ecology and our consultants to manage our two treatment plants in full compliance with the discharge permits issued for their operation.”
Ecology water quality penalty payments go to the state’s Coastal Protection Fund which issues grants to public agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects. The penalty may be appealed to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board.