UPDATE: 320,000-gallon sewer overflow into Duwamish River

11:57 AM: Just received:

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has responded to a sewer overflow that reached the Duwamish River. SPU and Public Health-Seattle & King County (Public Health) are warning the public to refrain from water activities like fishing. Signs are posted from the 16th Ave. S. bridge to the Turning Basin, indicating Public Health’s closure of a roughly 3,000-foot stretch of waterway and shoreline.

SPU received a report about 1 pm Thursday about suspected sewage in a ditch near King County International Airport-Boeing Field. SPU’s Spill Response team reached the site within 30 minutes to investigate the report and conduct testing. After results indicated a sewer overflow, SPU immediately relieved a blockage, caused by a lodged piece of plywood, in a City sanitary sewer line. SPU estimates the total overflow at 320,000 gallons.

SPU also contacted its regulators and partners, including Public Health, WA Dept. of Ecology, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, City of Tukwila, King Co. Intl. Airport-Boeing Field and local tribes.

SPU will continue sampling until results confirm acceptable levels.

Public Health recommends that people should avoid coming into contact with sewage-contaminated water. If you do get contaminated water on your skin, wash thoroughly with soap and warm water. Health impacts from exposure to sewage primarily include gastrointestinal illness and skin infection. While this sewage spill is being cleaned up, people may want to avoid eating fish from the river. Due to legacy chemical pollution, the lower Duwamish River has had an on-going fishing advisory that recommends only fishing for salmon. Always avoid bottom dwelling seafood species in the lower Duwamish.

The 16th Avenue S. Bridge mentioned above is better known as the South Park Bridge; it crosses the river at 16th on the east side and turns into 14th on the west (South Park) side.

ADDED: SPU sent an “afternoon update” saying the Duwamish River is now posted with warnings all the way north to Harbor Island.

6 Replies to "UPDATE: 320,000-gallon sewer overflow into Duwamish River"

  • John September 20, 2019 (12:29 pm)

    Incredible that a piece of plywood could end up in the sanitary sewer line that  is dedicated to raw sewage (toilets, sinks & showers) and separate from the more open storm drain (roof gutters, hard surface like driveways and roads).

  • 2 Much Whine September 20, 2019 (3:18 pm)

    Hopefully the folks with the gill nets down-river read the blog or somebody else notified them.  I’d hate to buy anything caught swimming through 320,000 gallons of raw sewage.  To put it into perspective 320K gallons is equivalent to a football field (including the end zones) roughly 11 inches deep.  That’s a lot of sewage.

  • DH September 20, 2019 (3:31 pm)

    It always amazes me how they can call the dumping of thousands of gallons of something toxic as a “spill” or “overflow.” This is Orwellian language.  

  • Jon Wright September 20, 2019 (4:29 pm)

    It’s kind of disconcerting that nobody noticed things were 320,000 gallons lighter than normal downstream. You’d think a big reduction in the flow of a sewer line ought to trigger some sort of alarm.

  • Kersti Muul September 20, 2019 (9:56 pm)

    How very unfortunate with all the incoming coho in the bay, and the resident orcas being in there two days in a row. And yes, hopefully the subsistence fishers have had notice

  • flimflam September 20, 2019 (10:09 pm)

    more infrastructure failures…

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