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Rags, debris contribute to pump station overflow in Bellevue

Rags, wipes and trash that ensnared pumping equipment at King County’s Bellevue Pump Station Sunday night contributed to a raw sewage overflow into the Meydenbauer Slough.

Employees with King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division were notified about the overflow at 12:15 a.m. Monday and crews were able to stop it about 45 minutes later. It’s estimated that 15,000 gallons of wastewater overflowed into the slough, which flows into Lake Washington.

Mechanical issues began during the weekend when debris and rags shut down two of the station’s pumps. A back-up pump that activated on Sunday morning failed late Sunday night due to a problem with a float sensor, which operators believe malfunctioned because it also became caught in debris.

County staff took water quality samples, posted public areas as closed, and notified health and regulatory agencies about the overflow. Crews completed cleanup Monday morning to remove visible material.

Wastewater Treatment Division Director Christie True said the overflow was an important reminder to the public to keep trash out of the toilet.

“A product label might say “flushable”, but items like wipes, diapers, tissues and hygiene products can cause big problems in the sewer system that can lead to overflows like this one, which cost money to fix and put public health and the environment at risk,” said True. “Toilet paper is the only product that’s safe to flush. Everything else should be bagged and put in the trash.”

The Wastewater Treatment Division’s “Let’s Talk Trash” website offers detailed information about how the public can safely dispose of unwanted items here.

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