The Environmental Protection Agency has given King County a $96.8 million loan to improve water treatment infrastructure and reduce harmful spillovers into the Puget Sound its tributaries.
The announcement of this loan comes only about a week after power outages and heavy rainfalls caused a handful of water treatment and pumping stations in the county to collectively spill over 10 million gallons of untreated water into the Puget Sound and Lake Washington.
According to a King County press release, it is estimated that 80 percent of the spilled wastewater was storm run-off while 20 percent was sewage. A handful of beaches around the county were closed to prevent people from being exposed to dangerous water conditions.
Most of the beaches have been reopened after consecutive water quality tests revealed they were safe.
According to an EPA press release, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan will help finance the design and construction of a massive underground storage tank that will capture and store untreated stormwater and sewage from heavy storms until it can be treated.
“This WIFIA loan will help King County better manage stormwater during heavy rain events — meaning fewer sewer overflows and less pollution entering the Puget Sound,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler via press release.
King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director Christie True said projects funded by this loan will create over 600 construction jobs in the region.