News Feature | April 19, 2017

Following Catastrophic Flood, Wastewater Workers Lead Recovery

Source: Aerzen
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When electrical issues caused effluent pumps to shut down at the West Point wastewater treatment plant in Seattle, WA, influent levels began to rise and flooded the plant, leaving it severely damaged.

“Areas of the plant flooded with an estimated 12 feet of raw sewage and stormwater,” The Seattle Times reported. “Thousands of pieces of equipment were destroyed in the flooding, including an estimated 200 electrical motors submerged in the polluted water.”

Since then, wastewater treatment workers and emergency responders have been working to get the plant back to full capacity.

“Crews have been working around the clock to make repairs at Washington’s largest wastewater treatment plant,” per KOMO News. “If everything goes as planned, the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant should be back at full capacity by the end of April, according to facility directors.”

While routine wastewater operations can often go unacknowledged by the community they serve, the extra effort to get back on track in Seattle has been heralded.

“The community has taken notice” KOMO News reported. “A local Girl Scout troop has sent a handful of thank you cards to the repair crews. And every week, volunteers have donated a big spread for a free Friday lunch buffet for the workers.”

The accolades appear well deserved, as operators like Robert Beig, who works in the digester area, have been pulling 12-hour shifts to get the plant cleaned and back to normal.

But beyond making things just as they were, extra efforts are being taken to make sure a similar incident won’t take place again.

“Directors say crews are making electric upgrades to the valves and upgrading float switches to a new design, which can prevent future equipment failures,” per KOMO News.

Image credit: "01-29 Wastewater1-js" Jesse Skoubo © 2013 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/