Update on Sewage Leak at Bitter Lake

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.

3 Comments on “Update on Sewage Leak at Bitter Lake”

  1. The residents that live on Bitter Lake have complained for years about sewage in the lake. SPU was unresponsive until now. There are ‘other’ pipes that enter the lake that spew suds, and they’ve failed to fully investigate them, as well. My hope is for cleaner water in the future, so that all can enjoy the recreational potential of this in-city lake.

  2. It is so sad and disgusting to see and hear of our lake’s pollution! We have lived here 41 years, and have a beautiful lake access. Our hope is that we can improve the water quality of Bitter Lake so that we can once again swim and recreate, feeling like we will not become ill doing so.
    The Igls on North Park Ave North

  3. I hope that the apartment building gets a nice stiff fine. Those responsible deserve more. To discharge sewage into that lake was highly selfish and irresponsible. Many folks, including elderly people for whom infections and disease are more likely and more severe, swim in that lake and I am sure that the owner of the building was aware both of the discharge of fecal matter into the lake as well as the fact that the public swim in it. The owner’s name and the name of the building should be published.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *