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UPDATE | Broken sewer main fixed, beaches to remain closed for one week

Warning signs have been posted along Eagle Harbor after a sewer main break Saturday spilled sewage into the harbor. - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
Warning signs have been posted along Eagle Harbor after a sewer main break Saturday spilled sewage into the harbor.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

Bainbridge public works employees completed repairs to a broken sewer main on the beach of Eagle Harbor during low tide Sunday morning.

The break in the 12-inch sewer main was discovered Saturday at about 3:30 p.m. and prompted the closure of Eagle Harbor beaches during the Labor Day weekend.

Its unknown at this point how large the spill into Puget Sound actually was, city officials said.

"We're trying to get a handle on how many gallons of sewage actually spilled into the Sound," City Manager Doug Schulze said Sunday.

Repairs were completed about 10:30 a.m. Sept. 1.

The break happened in a portion of the pipe not far from a previous pipe failure back in 2009 or so, Schulze said.

A crew of about a half dozen was called out late Saturday in response to the spill, and a similar number today, to repair the broken main.

Workers put a bypass line in place by 8 p.m. Saturday.

"Once the bypass was in, there wasn't any additional flow going to the pipe," Schulze said.

The flow that would normally go into the 12-inch main was sent through the bypass line to the lift station off of Olympic Drive, then pumped into tanker trucks.

Sewer service was not interrupted for customers in the area.

The cause of the break is still unknown.

The main, a 40-year-old cast iron pipe, did not appear to be degraded by salt water.

"The pipe ... when they uncovered it, actually appeared to be in pretty good shape," Schulze said.

The main may have eroded from the inside out, he added.

City officials said it appeared that the line leaked for about 15 hours.

The city has not yet estimated the cost of repairs. Schulze said labor costs would likely make up the majority of the expense of repairing the pipe.

The sewage spill prompted the closure of beaches along Eagle Harbor.

The closure will initially run for one week, until Sept. 8.

Numerous signs stating "Sewage Spill" have been posted along Eagle Harbor, and people were being warned to avoid contact with the water.

Beaches have been closed to wading, swimming or shellfish harvesting as a precautionary measure.

Most people were taking note of the warning signs Sunday, though kayakers were still wading into the water to launch near the city dock in Winslow.

Schulze said the Kitsap Public Health District is expected to conduct water tests for fecal coliform before reopening Eagle Harbor beaches to the public.

 

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