Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has provided us with more information about the sewage leak into Bitter Lake. Below is the text of the information from SPU:
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) crews were performing regular maintenance on a drainage line near Bitter Lake on Thursday night, May 10, when a local resident told them about a foul odor coming from a nearby catch basin (part of the street drainage system). The crews responded, found sewage in some drainage structures, and started an investigation. They used the “drain cam” to look into the pipeline and found evidence of a sewage connection in the drainage system. The operations crew notified the Source Control Team (who enforces and investigates problems like this) that night.
No sewage has entered the lake since the problem was discovered on May 10. The line from the building has been plugged since then.
There is a flow control system in the basement of the building, so SPU staff members don’t believe there was a constant flow of sewage to the lake.
Friday morning, May 11, SPU Source Control staff visited the site and started their investigation, and they determined there was an illicit connection in place. They issued a Notice of Violation to the property owner of an apartment building on Friday. It requires that the problem be fixed by Friday, May 18.
Although they had not taken water-quality samples yet, they decided to close the lake as a precaution to protect public health. Fliers were distributed at the Community Center, along the lake’s public access point, on telephone poles, and directly to residents on either side of the stormwater outfall.
Since Friday, May 11 drainage crews have cleaned the affected stormwater pipe to the lake and have continued to work with the property owner to get the connection fixed. SPU has sampled to gather data about fecal coliform levels in the lake, and, when those data come back, will be making decisions about when to reopen the lake.
As a precaution it is recommended that people have no contact with Bitter Lake until the sampling results are known. SPU expects to have them within a week, likely early the week of May 20. As soon as they are available, SPU will let people know what they are and what it means.