About 2:00 AM on February 9, 2017, Puget Sound suffered a major spill of over 220 million gallons of untreated waste and storm runoff. This significant amount of pollution was released directly into our local waters from the West Point Treatment Plant in Discovery Park in Seattle. On February 15 the plant was forced to dump more untreated raw sewage directly into Puget Sound once again. It's being reported that no waste has been released into our waters since the second spill.
The two incidents have polluted local beaches with high levels of both 'fecal coliform bacteria and enterococcus'. Reports from water samples taken show contamination on our shores as far away as Bainbridge Island and Indianola. Although signs have been posted at some of the beaches and the entrances to warn people of the dangers, many people have either not noticed or ignored the postings. While I was at the treatment plant Sunday morning to learn of any progress for myself, I discovered many families with their children and dogs on the beach at Discovery Park.
The Water Treatment Division continues to monitor and sample the water quality. Much more detailed information is available at the website:
In the meantime, I would highly recommend avoiding the beaches from Elliott Bay to Richmond Beach for at least the next few days.
Saturday I was diving near Des Moines, almost 15 miles south the contaminated area. The pollution in the water seemed higher than normal for this time of year. Typically when we get heavy rainfall, storm drains will discharge high amounts of waste from runoff. A layer of oil can easily be seen by divers entering and exiting the water. This weekend the layer seemed unusually noticeable. I estimated that it extended at least 12 to 15 feet below the surface. Of course this was not detouring myself or any other divers. We're all just a little crazy like that. Below are a few of the shots I was able to capture this weekend while diving.
To learn more about what untreated waste, pollution and toxins will do to an unsuspecting environment, we need not look any further than Victoria B.C., on Vancouver Island. For decades the local government has refused to work with the provincial or federal government to treat their waste.
Allen Crow has created and posted on YouTube an amazing and shocking video showing the effects untreated waste has on the local marine life suffering in the waters of Victoria B.C. I was shocked to see how stressed and degraded the area has remained.
Watch and share Allen's video:
Update on the possible solution to Victoria's sewage problem seem to be moving forward:
Drew Collins professional underwater photographer and environmentalist living and diving primarily in the beautiful Emerald green waters of Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington.