King County was fined $105,000 for violating its water quality permit multiple times over the last two years.
The fines were issued by the Washington state Department of Ecology and the EPA. In 2017 and 2018 the county exceeded pollutant limits 18 times at its four wastewater treatment plants. In particular, the violations occurred at the Alki, Carkeek, Henderson/Norfolk and Mercer/Elliott West sewer treatment plants. In another instance, the disinfection system at the Elliott West plant failed in April 2018.
The discharges entered Puget Sound, the Duwamish River and Elliott Bay. It contained bacteria and other pollutants that can make water unsafe for people and animals. The violations did not involve the large wasterwater plants including Brightwater, South Plant and West Point.
The county will pay the amount under a 2013 legal agreement between the county, state and federal government. The agreement is designed to reinforce requirements for the county to comply with the state’s sewer treatment regulations by 2030.
Ecology will receive half the payment. The payment will be placed in the state’s Coastal Protection Fund, which provides grants to agencies and tribes for water quality restoration projects. The county can appeal the decision.