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Council acts to support West Point employees and strengthen safeguards at treatment facility


Implementing recommendations and accommodating reporting of concerns at facility


The Metropolitan King County Council today took steps to ensure that the disaster that crippled the county’s West Point Treatment Plant in February will not happen again. The Council unanimously adopted two pieces of legislation. One requires the implementation of the recommendations made by the independent panel that investigated the plant failure; the second considers ways to address staff retention needs at the plant, and the ability to confidentially report concerns about conditions at West Point.

“These two pieces of legislation will help the Wastewater Treatment Division take the necessary steps to ensure that West Point is prepared to both prevent future floods as well as manage peak flows and respond to potential emergency situations,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, whose district includes the West Point Plant.

On February 9, effluent pumps at the West Point Treatment Plant failed, flooding the facility and spilling thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater into Puget Sound. The Council called for an independent assessment of the system failure, which was conducted by AECOM Technical Services this summer. The independent assessment provided a number of key recommendations to prevent future incidents at West Point.

The Council approved legislation calling for the implementation of the recommendations from AECOM as well as requirements of the Washington Department of Ecology as part of Ecology’s administrative order assessed against the County for water quality violations caused by the plant failure. The measure requires the County Executive, by February 15, 2018, to transmit to the Council his plan to implement the recommendations and the Ecology administrative order.

The second ordinance adopted by the Council directs direction to the County Executive to develop recommendations for an ongoing staff reporting tool by which staff can confidentially communicate suggestions or concerns to agency management regarding facility operational matters.

The ordinance also requires the Executive to explore ways to retain the specialized staff that operates West Point, which has seen significant employee turnover.
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