Ecology issues fines for county water-pollution cases

BOTHELL — Two of the four largest environmental fines in Washington this spring stemmed from water pollution in Snohomish County, including a Bothell-area sewage leak that’s accelerated tens of millions of dollars in pipeline upgrades.

The sewage leak led to the state fining King County $22,000 — the highest penalty levied during the second quarter of this year. The state last week released statistics for April through June.

The Department of Ecology in May found King County responsible for releasing more than 10 million gallons of sewage near Thrasher’s Corner. King County provides wastewater treatment for parts of south Snohomish County.

In that case, sewage reached North Creek and wetlands at Bothell’s Centennial Park during heavy bouts of rain between Nov. 19, 2012, and Jan. 9 of this year. Wastewater also backed up into two homes.

The pipeline, called the North Creek Interceptor, carries sewage from the Mill Creek and Bothell areas, mostly from the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District. It’s been in use since 1970.

“It was prone to overflows during wet weather,” said Annie Kolb-Nelson, a King County spokeswoman. “It was very clear we needed to take steps to address issues on that line.”

Since the overflows, crews have repaired several serious leaks. King County also plans to begin construction next year on a $37.6 million project to replace nearly two miles of the North Creek Interceptor. The work is to take place between 164th Place SE and 228th Street SE.

King County also says it’s working more closely on prevention and public outreach with Alderwood Water and Wastewater District staff.

The fourth-highest environmental penalty in Washington last spring was a $19,500 fine against Industrial Plating Corp. of Mukilteo. The state said the company failed to protect water quality at a manufacturing facility on Russell Road, near the Mukilteo Speedway.

The company operates with a state permit that allows it to discharge a certain amount of water into Mukilteo’s sewer system. Violations included late monthly reports about pollutant levels between May 2011 and February 2012. The company also failed to monitor for cadmium, lead, silver and cyanide in discharged water from May through December 2011, the state said.

The company has complied with its permit requirements since last year, the state reported.

In all, The state Department of Ecology issued $141,800 in fines of at least $1,000 from April through June this year.

Separately, the Ecology Department in August settled a water-quality case in Snohomish County against the state Department of Transportation. The violation came to light after state transportation officials reported problems about tracking water quality for Highway 522 widening between Monroe and the Snohomish River.

To settle the case, transportation officials agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and sponsor $20,000 in environmental restoration. That was a reduction of an original $60,000 fine, half of which will be forgiven if the transportation department follows through.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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