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Bainbridge Public Works crews repair leaking sewer line
The city's Public Works department has repaired a broken sewage main that has spilled an estimated 140,000 gallons of untreated sewage and effluent into Eagle Harbor.
However, the real amount of sewage that has spilled into Puget Sound waters may never be determined, as the calculated amount of the spill was based on when the problem was first reported, at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
"There is always that possibility that it was spilling before, but for our purposes we are estimating from when we were first notified of the event," said Lance Newkirk, the Director of Operations and Maintenance with the city’s Public Works department.
The 12-inch pipe serves as a conduit for transporting sewage from the downtown Winslow area west of SR-305 to the city's wastewater treatment plant on Hawley Way. According to Newkirk, the pipe accounts for 60 percent of all incoming sewage into the treatment plant.
Public works crews assembled at 4 a.m. on Tuesday to begin repairs. They had to coordinate with a low tide that would allow crews to access the pipe which is located in the tide flats on the north side of Eagle Harbor.
A stainless steel sleeve and braces were used to fix the pipe. Repairs were completed at about 8:30 a.m.
The holes in the main are thought to have been caused by corrosion.
"I think basic science, any iron pipe sitting in salt water for 32 years will have a problem," City Council member Kim Brackett said. "My question is, why did it take 32 to look at these pipes?"
According to a press release from the city, potential problems in shoreline sewer infrastructure were identified two years ago, however a capital repair program was not drafted because a corrosion assessment of city sewer lines came back inconclusive.
"For the long term, corrosion will be an issue and it's something we have to address in our a replacement strategy," Newkirk said.
The Public Works and Engineering department is now drafting an improvement plan for sewer lines, but it will be up to the city council to make sewage pipe repairs a priority.
Monday, the Kitsap County Health District established a 10-day no-contact order that extends from Yeomalt Point to Rockaway Beach and includes all waters in Eagle Harbor. Citizens are also being advised to not harvest shellfish in the contaminated area.
On Tuesday, the smell of sewage continued to waft around Eagle Harbor. According to the health district, the effects of the spill will be noticeable for at least another week.
Check back to BainbridgeReview.com for updates and look for a full story on the sewer leak in the Review's Friday edition.