By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The Jefferson County Environmental Health Department issued a health advisory Wednesday against all contact with Port Ludlow Bay water until this Tuesday because lab tests found high levels of bacteria at the outfall.
Larry Smith, president of Olympic Water and Sewer, said Thursday that some 30,000 gallons leaked from the facility Tuesday because of a mechanical failure of an access timer that has now been repaired.
Michael Dawson, the water lead for the county health department, said Wednesday that repairs were made Tuesday morning.
It advised against swimming, kayaking, fishing or harvesting seaweed.
Shellfishing is always closed at Port Ludlow Bay because of the close proximity of the sewage treatment plant outfall and marina.
Smith differed with the county's characterization of the incident as a “sewage spill,” saying the leakage consisted of water that was chlorinated to a lesser degree than what usually passes through the system.
“When you say 'sewage spill,' that has a public connotation that isn't true in this case,” he said.
After the incident, the company tested the output several times until it was determined that the water quality was back to normal, Smith said.
The water output does not have a direct contact with the beach but is channeled through a 3,000-foot pipe that empties into Admiralty Inlet, Smith said.
Mark Toy of the state Department of Health said beach closures are often “judgment calls,” with counties making conservative choices about any potential health hazard.
Dawson was not available for comment Thursday.
Sandy Howard, state Department of Ecology spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the agency could enact a penalty against the company if it were determined that “something took place that could have been prevented.”
Smith said Thursday that he did not expect to be fined because the incident was properly reported and repaired.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 firstname.lastname@example.org.