ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:33 AM: That photo from Alki Bathhouse shows a shower you can’t use any more because of pollution concerns. Paul shared it, with the note: “I, the lady with the two kids covered in sand at Alki Beach today and every scuba diver in Seattle would be interested in knowing how our tap water is harmful to Puget Sound (especially when we still have combined sewer overflow running untreated into Puget Sound every time it rains)?” The shower at Seacrest Boathouse has the same status and signage. So we checked with Seattle Parks, whose spokesperson David Takami replied:
In early July, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) staff checked for possible prohibited discharges at two locations in West Seattle:
* The outside shower at Alki Bathhouse, where pottery equipment had been washed; and
* The fish-cleaning sink and divers’ showers at Seacrest Park.
SPU administers the City of Seattle’s compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit. NPDES is a program of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
SPU determined that prohibited substances were present and draining directly into Puget Sound. Used water from showers and sinks may contain dirt, chemicals, chlorine and other substances that are not allowed to be directly discharged into the Sound. Upon notification, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff turned off the water at these two sites. Staff are looking into short- and long-term solutions.
We posted signs at both locations that read “The outside shower has been turned off or removed because it drains directly into Puget Sound in violation of the Federal Clean Water Act.”
We’re checking with SPU to find out more, including whether this is a citywide crackdown.
5:40 PM UPDATE: Spoke with an SPU rep, Louise Kulzer, a short time ago and got some answers, though it was recommended that we contact someone tomorrow who would likely have even more specifics. This, she said, originated with a complaint – the city has long acknowledged that many of its actions are complaint-based rather than proactive, and this seems to be one such case. Kulzer said, however, that the specific action of shutting down the showers would have been Parks’ choice to remedy the problem of discharging prohibited substances directly into Puget Sound. Even if not for a complaint, SPU does routinely inspect businesses and city facilities and might eventually have discovered this anyway, we’re told. We asked if parks in any other areas had been ordered to remedy similar problems, and Kulzer didn’t have that information handy – that’s something we should be able to ask about tomorrow.