Rains send sewage into open waters
EVERETT - Heavy rain last week caused sewage overflow pipes to discharge a large amount of untreated sewage and storm water into the Snohomish River and Port Gardner Bay.
Ten of the city’s 13 combined sewage overflow pipes overfilled, forcing extra water into outfall pipes that skip the sewage plant. The outfall pipe system kicks in when heavy rain would otherwise overwhelm the sewage plant with storm water.
Also, one of the city’s sewage lift stations overflowed for about 55 minutes because of the heavy rainfall.
“Because there was so much rainfall, (the sewage mix) was very diluted,” public works spokeswoman Marla Carter said last week. Public works crews didn’t know how much untreated water was discharged at press time.
The amount of overflow was normal for the volume of rain Everett had Monday, Nov. 19, Carter said.
Everett notified local agencies of the incident, including the departments of Ecology and Health, the Snohomish Health District and the Port of Everett.
Carter hasn’t heard of any basements flooding in north Everett.
Homes in north Everett have experienced flooding in the past before the city installed bigger pipes. A freak 2010 storm sent sewage into a number of homes’ basements. The city had to reimburse those homeowners for the damages.
The public is hearing about more overflows in recent years because of a new policy that says the city has to notify the public if six or more outfall pipes start discharging, Carter said. The policy began after a large sewage overflow last November wasn’t publicized.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday last year, four days of heavy rain sent an overflow of 25 million gallons of raw sewage into the Snohomish River.
Everett is one of about a dozen cities with the older combined sewer and storm water pipe systems. Seattle is another. Almost all of those cities are working to separate parts of their systems to meet Ecology’s storm water and sewer standards by 2017.