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UPDATE | No-contact signs posted late after Eagle Harbor sewage spill
The city of Bainbridge Island reported a sewage spill into Eagle Harbor Sunday morning after a contractor who was digging to replace the aging sewer line hit and ruptured the pipe.
The 40-year-old cast iron sewer main broke around 10:30 a.m. and the spill was stopped at 1:30 p.m.
Despite the three-hour-long spill, some residents are wondering where the "no-contact" warning signs were Sunday at Bainbridge's Eagle Harbor beaches.
Bainbridge resident Sherry Eckert said she was out at Pritchard Park from about 1:20 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday with family and friends.
The group had five kids with them, and she said that a neighboring group of people had about seven kids with them.
"If there was a sign out there, it was missed by a lot of people," Eckert said.
Both parking lots were full and the park was crowded with families and their pets taking advantage of the sunny weekend.
As far as Eckert could tell, there were no signs warning people to stay away from the water.
The first mention she heard of a sewage spill was when her sister showed up to join the group at the beach.
"My sister said, 'Oh, you're letting them swim in the sewage pool,'" Eckert said.
"I said, 'Well, the sewage spill was a month ago.' I didn't know there was an active spill."
It wasn't until she got on the Internet Monday that she found out there was in fact a spill.
"It's concerning to me as a parent," Eckert said.
"If I get E. coli, that's one thing, but if my small child gets E. coli that could be life or death," she said.
Eckert said in the past she has seen advisory signs posted at the entrance of Bainbridge beaches, and there were no signs at Pritchard Sunday.
Stuart Whitford of the Kitsap Public Health District said the city reported the spill around 1 p.m. Sunday to the district and issued an advisory by 4:30 p.m. for the public to avoid human and pet contact with the waters of Eagle Harbor until further notice.
The district had a crew sent out around the same time to put up warning signs.
"The first priority for the city was they had to stop the leak, the next priority is notification," Whitford said. "It certainly doesn't happen immediately."
Since Bainbridge has experienced several spills in the past year, Whitford explained that in this particular incident the city had a supply of signs to post at beaches and shoreline near the city center.
District staff covered some of the more isolated beach areas like Pritchard, Whitford said.
Eckert and her family had most likely already left the park when crews arrived just after 4:30 p.m. to post advisory signs at Pritchard.
Bainbridge Island Public Works Director Barry Loveless said the amount of sewage that spilled into Eagle Harbor is still unknown.
In the meantime, along with a no-contact warning on Eagle Harbor waters, swimming beaches are also closed until further notice.