FOLLOWUP: West Seattle beach pollution from condo sewer problems not over after all

(WSB photo, last week)

Nine days after we first reported on warning signs south of Alki Point because of a sewer leak on private property, the problems aren’t over after all, Seattle Public Utilities confirms. Two days after that first report, SPU told us the leak had stopped, but bacteria levels were still high enough to keep nearby beaches closed to water activities. Then on Wednesday a reader tipped us that more signage had gone up east of Alki Point, including one seen at 64th/Alki. So we checked back with SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register, whose reply identifies the problem property for the first time:

Seattle Public Utilities staff continue to test water samples daily to determine when the beach can safely reopen to water activities. Since the July 13 discovery of the overflow caused by a broken side sewer at a multi-unit building at 3717 Beach Drive, samples have shown higher than acceptable levels of bacteria. Continued high readings of bacteria revealed additional sewer-related issues at the multi-unit building and prompted SPU’s Spill Response team to extend and expand the beach closure .

SPU property owners are responsible for maintaining their sewer lines and any discharges from unmaintained lines can result in fines. SPU will issue a notice of violation to the property owner.

Tide flows and the availability of contractors have impacted their repair schedule. Repairs are scheduled to begin (today). SPU staff will continue to work with the building owner and Public Health-Seattle & King County to determine when water activities along Beach Dr. can safely resume.

3717 Beach Drive is the Harbor West condo building, built on pilings over the water. The complex had a major sewer leak back in 2013.

20 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle beach pollution from condo sewer problems not over after all"

  • Flivver July 22, 2021 (4:27 pm)

    Trivia here. Used to be that section of Beach Drive and in front of Perkins lane on Magnolia were zoned to build on the water. There were “lots” were legal to build on. When Harbor West was built people(and the city) woke up to the fact that this was legal and on the books. They changed the zoning  so that no more building would, or could be built on or over the water. 

    • Low-low tide fan July 22, 2021 (6:46 pm)

      The Harbor West building is pretty cool and interesting but dumping your feces in the water is not cool or interesting

  • flimflam July 22, 2021 (4:44 pm)

    Great. Fix it and fine the property as much as possible.

    • Mike Hickey July 24, 2021 (6:15 am)

      YES! Triple the fines.

  • Tim July 22, 2021 (5:53 pm)

    This leak has been fixed as of today. SPU will continue to monitor the bacteria levels and reopen when all is clear.

  • John July 22, 2021 (6:13 pm)

    Additional trivia.  Another example of the old platted parcels that were the cause of the code and zoning changes that prohibited building out over the water is the condos at eastern Madison Park waterfront that were also built in 1968.   Our private waterfront of Puget Sound and Lake Washington would likely look quite different if not for these restrictions.The enduring legacy of the old plats is our (the public’s) lack of access to shoreline.  I only wish that had also been revoked to allow passage along the beach within the tide lines.

  • Meeeee July 22, 2021 (7:12 pm)

    So who is paying for all the clean up and associated costs?Hopefully it’s the condo owners/condo association.Going to be hard to sell those units with a large looming assessment for the owners hanging over the complex.

    • Real July 22, 2021 (7:39 pm)

      What clean up? The water takes care of itself. Nobody is punishes when millions of gallons are “leaked” into the water by the government all the time in the Sound. Wouldn’t you rather have them have the funds to fix their plumbing rather than it go to the government who just does the same thing on a grand scale? 

      • Also John July 23, 2021 (11:46 am)

        I’m really getting tired of false information.    Decades-old sewer infrastructure cost King County $118,500 in fines after the Washington Department of Ecology found 27 cases in which wastewater discharge exceeded pollutant limits, five instances of unpermitted overflows and other permit issues.

        • Judy K July 23, 2021 (12:31 pm)

          Also John, where is this from?

  • Flivver July 22, 2021 (7:24 pm)

    My guess is the condo residents will have to pay. Something condo buyers don’t fully appreciate is that they’re on the hook to pay for everything. Family member bought a condo on Fauntleroy. Got it because the elderly owner couldn’t afford the assessment for the buildings new roof. Forced to sell. 

  • Maureen July 22, 2021 (8:36 pm)

    There are some nice low tides tomorrow around 11 am. Does anyone know if Constellation Park will be open for tide pooling?

    • WSB July 22, 2021 (8:42 pm)

      We reported on the tides yesterday. I don’t know when the next water quality test is planned, but Seattle Aquarium beach naturalists will NOT be at Constellation Park because of the situation.

      • J July 23, 2021 (8:56 am)

        Any idea how far south the closer extends?

  • Mary M Robinson July 23, 2021 (9:01 am)

      Residences need grants not fines to afford their huge septic repairs. 

    • Auntie July 23, 2021 (10:11 am)

      I certainly don’t want any of my tax dollars going to repair someone else’s privately owned sewer/septic system. You can buy insurance for that and if you don’t, well, you just have to pay for the repairs.

    • WS resident July 23, 2021 (10:15 am)

      How is that fair? But a condo, don’t pay to maintain the property then expect the government to pay? That’s just ridiculous. Did you know the homeowners with waterfront property have massive property taxes, as owning waterfront property comes along with great responsibility to keep the sound and the environment protected and clean, condos should be no different, their HOA fees should cover whatever maintenance needs to be done to protect our fragile ecosystem, everyone gets to choose where they live, the cost of living to stay there and if they can truly afford it. 

  • Oh no July 23, 2021 (9:22 pm)

    What? I didn’t see a sign last weekend at constellation park and went in the water🤯. How long til I get sick?

  • Oh no July 24, 2021 (1:03 pm)

    Also serious question… Who do I contact about the possibility of better signage of this public health hazard? Just found out a friend’s daughter was swimming in the water off constellation park last week. And folks on sups etc would be coming around from Alki point. Perhaps these signs looks too similar to the shellfish signs that are always there?  

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