West Seattle beach notes: Of sewage and seals

Remember that sign on Lowman Beach? We now know the extent of the Murray Pump Station overflow that closed the beach back during the January 11th power outage: 1.5 million gallons. That’s according to Annie Kolb-Nelson from King County Wastewater Treatment, who didn’t have that stat when they were still dealing with the exact aftermath; we checked back this week to ask. It happened just as the county is launching into construction of two West Seattle projects meant to dramatically reduce the chance of such overflows – one of them right there at Lowman, which is now full of fencing and bordered with two construction trailers (this is their water-facing side):

Two components of the work ahead could have prevented or reduced the January 11th overflow – the pump station itself, beneath the south side of Lowman Beach Park, will get a backup power system, instead of having to await the arrival of a portable generator if an outage happens. And a million-gallon overflow-holding tank will be across the street.

The other project will reduce overflows at the nearby Barton Pump Station, north of the Fauntleroy ferry dock, which itself, like Murray, is getting a power upgrade. Its overflow-reduction system is very different – roadside raingardens to hold stormwater will be built in two of the neighborhoods in the “basin” feeding that station. And that project is about to have its two pre-construction community meetings – tomorrow and Saturday – time/location details are here.

The end result of both projects is supposed to be cleaner water. Not just for people, but for wildlife. We were reminded of that when we went to Lowman Beach today to photograph the construction trailers.

At Lowman, we also saw that seal pup, which had been on the rocky shore since relatively early in the morning, when Morgan spotted it and shared that photo via Twitter, hours before our visit. Seal Sitters were there by the time we saw it, and they thought it might be the same one we found ourselves guarding for a little while Tuesday evening at Lincoln Parkthe story’s on the Seal Sitters’ website.

ADDED: Turns out it probably wasn’t “Cameo.” The Wednesday seal hung around all day and, as noted by Seal Sitters, got the nickname “PeeWee.”

3 Replies to "West Seattle beach notes: Of sewage and seals"

  • enviromaven January 23, 2014 (9:49 am)

    Is that 1.5 million gallons of untreated wastewater that spilled into the sound? As in raw sewage?

    • WSB January 23, 2014 (9:56 am)

      Yes, raw sewage, combined with some stormwater.

  • alice January 23, 2014 (12:20 pm)

    Will the sewage treatment center take over the park?

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