Sewage spill hits Liberty Bay

POULSBO — Unacceptable. That was the word Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln used to describe the second sewage spill in less than three months into Liberty Bay. It was the third in three years.

When parts of the city experienced a power outage Saturday, the Marine Science Center Pump Station was affected and subsequently less than 1,000 gallons of sewage spilled from the station near the Poulsbo Marina.

Unlike the September spill, which leaked more than 500,000 gallons of raw sewage into the bay, as the result of a leak in the pipe running between the Lindvig Pump Station and the Marine Science Center, blame for Saturday’s spill can be placed on human error.

“It’s just not acceptable and we got to review our process,” Lincoln said Monday morning.

When the power went off, the technician on call went to the pump station and turned on the back-up generator and then assisted with traffic control as emergency crews responded to a downed power line at the Bank of America on Jensen Way, he said.

“At 10:30 a.m. we were notified that a manhole between Bayside Broiler and the Marine Science Center was overflowing,” Lincoln said.

City employees executed public works’ clean-up plan for such incidents and some of the sewage was collected in a catch-basin and some went into the bay.

Kitsap County Health District officials visited Poulsbo Sunday and, during the course of their inspection, found another manhole further north that was full of sewage, Lincoln said.

The health district issued a surface water advisory for the area around the Poulsbo Marina Sunday and the advisory was expected to be lifted Tuesday, said Stuart Whitford, water quality program manager for the health district.

The incident can be placed on two failures to follow procedures, one on the controls and the other on the inspection of the system, Lincoln said. In addition to causing the public works department to re-examine its training policies, the spill reinforces the need for the city to upgrade its telemetry system, he said.

“We’ve got to get this done as quickly as possible,” he said, noting that until the 2006 budget is approved by the city council, Poulsbo can’t move ahead with the purchase of the new system.

Once the system is implemented, it will automatically turn the back-up generator on in case of a power outage and will be able to react to a number of potential problems automatically.

“It will even be able to tell you if your gas in your generator is getting low,” Lincoln said.

The system, which is already in operation at the Lindvig station and the Westside well, will send the technician on call a message about the problem, so it can be resolved promptly, he said.

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