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Raw sewage continues to spill into Eagle Harbor, health district issues no-contact warnings | UPDATED
UPDATE:Traffic delays should be expected between 4 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, as repairs are made on a broken sewer line that is leaking into Eagle Harbor (see story below).
A pump-out facility off Olympic Drive will be utilized by Public Works crews tomorrow morning. Crews will pump sewage to reduce the amount of flow while a repair is made to the pipe located on the north shore of Eagle Harbor.
Raw sewage continues to spill into Eagle Harbor
A corroded sewer main has spilled more than 100,000 gallons of raw sewage into Eagle Harbor.
By the time the pipes will be fixed on Tuesday, roughly 140,000 gallons of raw sewage will have spilled into Eagle Harbor, according to estimates by the city’s Public Works Department.
The Kitsap County Health District has issued a 10-day no-contact advisory for all waters in and around Eagle Harbor due to the continued leaching of contaminants.
The broken sewage pipe, located between the ferry terminal and Hawley Cove Park on the north shore of Eagle Harbor, was reported Saturday at 3 p.m.
Public Works crews attempted to fix the broken pipe Sunday morning during a low tide, but came upon more corrosion problems than anticipated. A temporary patch has been used to keep most solids inside the broken pipe, but sewage is still escaping at over 1,400 gallons an hour.
“We’ve been in already this morning,” said Lance Newkirk, director of Operations and Maintenance with the city’s Public Works department. “We were hoping that we could find something to repair immediately, but there was more going on that we didn’t know about until it was uncovered.”
Four holes approximately one-half inch in diameter are the source of the leak, Newkirk said. Public Works crews will have to wait until early Tuesday morning to fix the damage in favorable tides because the main is buried underneath the beach.
“We were fighting mother nature and an incoming tide (Sunday) and the Tuesday morning tide gives us more time,” Newkirk said.
A low tide of 1.2 feet is predicted for 8:19 a.m. Tuesday.
Representatives from the Kitsap County Health District have posted notifications around the beach to alert the public to the spill.
John Kiess, water protection program manager with the health district, said the 10-day no-contact order extends from Yeomalt Point to Rockaway Beach and includes all waters in Eagle Harbor.
"There are a lot sewer systems in our area and unfortunately when they break they are not far from water," Kiess said. "Lines like this don't break often when they do they can be bad spills.
"The problem with this one is it's very difficult, mechanically, to repair. It's not a quick fix and it's a very major line." Kiess said.
The health district will test the harbor's water Monday and next week to monitor the levels of contamination before deciding when to rescind the no-contact advisory.
It is unknown at this time what kinds of fines may be levied against the city as a result of the spill.
Larry Altose, spokesman for the northwest division of the state Department of Ecology, said punitive measures are a possibility, but could not be ascertained this early in the investigation.
"Fines are possible, any discharge is subject to a fine, but we're weeks from that," Altose said. "First we want to make sure the city is responding. The first step is the get the spill stopped, then the city has to respond with a written report as to why the spill occurred."
Newkirk said that the city is aware of corrosion issues with old sewage pipes, most of which were installed along the shore in the 1970s. He said a capital project to repair faltering sewage pipes is in the process of being drafted.
The leaking pipes direct sewage from the downtown area west of SR-305 to the wastewater treatment plant on Hawley Way.
Newkirk said it would help city crews if households minimized their sewer use, especially on Tuesday morning.
City and contract crews will re-mobilize at 4 a.m. Tuesday to make necessary repairs.
Check back for more information on this developing story.