Two water quality improvement projects in King County have been awarded a combined $165.3 million in low-interest loans from the Washington State Department of Ecology this week.
According to the county, a water quality project along the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the new Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station will be partially funded by loans from the Department of Ecology’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
King County Natural Resources and Parks said in an online statement that these measures will help lessen the amount of trash washed into storm drains.
One of the greatest dangers to water quality in King County is polluted stormwater or runoff that happens following heavy rainfall, it brings toxins such as motor oil, metals, pesticides, fertilizer, and pet waste directly into streams, rivers, and Puget Sound.
According to the county, annually 75 million gallons of dirty stormwater and wastewater will be diverted from entering Lake Washington’s Ship Canal, Salmon Bay, and Lake Union thanks to the Ship Canal Water Quality Project, which was developed in collaboration with Seattle Public Utilities.
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According to King County Natural Resources and Parks, the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station began operating in late 2022). This facility has the capacity to treat up to 70 million gallons of combined stormwater and wastewater per day, making it an important part of the effort to keep the Duwamish River and Puget Sound clean during times of heavy rainfall.
Director of the King County Wastewater Treatment Division Kamuron Gurol said, “We will be able to get the most mileage out of these projects while reducing the load on customers” with the help of the loans. Almost two million people in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, as well as the Muckleshoot Tribe, benefit from the division’s wastewater treatment services.
The county estimated that the low-interest loans will save residents $83.5 million in interest payments.
“These investments are critical to a clean and healthy Puget Sound — now and in the future,” Gurol said of the two projects, which together advance plans to prepare the region for climate impacts and to decrease and control sewer outflows.
The county mentioned in its statement about the loans its efforts to improve the regional wastewater system over the past decade, such as the installation of new pumps and pipes, the installation of seismic upgrades, and the provision of a more stable power supply for workers at the West Point Treatment Plant.
King County Natural Resources and Parks say that restoring and safeguarding the county’s water quality would do more than only preserve the public’s health, it will also help reverse the precipitous decrease in native salmon, which threatens the existence of southern resident orcas.
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