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Untreated sewage soaked into the ground in Concrete. Ecology says it wasn’t quickly fixed.

The state Department of Ecology has fined Concrete $12,800 for not properly maintaining and operating its plant that releases treated wastewater into the Baker River, which meets the Skagit River.
The state Department of Ecology has fined Concrete $12,800 for not properly maintaining and operating its plant that releases treated wastewater into the Baker River, which meets the Skagit River. Getty Images

The state Department of Ecology has fined the town of Concrete $12,800 for sewage treatment violations.

The town has not properly maintained and operated its wastewater treatment plant, has discharged untreated wastewater and has not reported violations in a timely manner, according to an Ecology news release.

Concrete’s wastewater treatment facility treats sewage from about 400 homes and businesses, according to Ecology. The facility releases treated wastewater into the Baker River, which meets the Skagit River about a third of a mile downstream.

The problem, according to Ecology, is that due to improper maintenance of that facility, untreated sewage has been routed into the holding pond, called a lagoon, when more wastewater was coming into the facility than the facility could handle.

An excess amount of untreated sewage soaked into the ground from the lagoon, allowing pollutants to enter area groundwater and potentially the river.

The town began working to address the issues in 2016, but Ecology determined a fine was still warranted.

“While the town is taking steps to fix the problems, they should have prevented, reported and addressed them much sooner,” Rachel McCrea, regional manager for Ecology’s Water Quality Program, said in the release.

The $12,800 fine is for several violations between 2014 and 2017. Those violations include diverting wastewater into the lagoon on 69 days, reporting only two of those diversions and not adequately cleaning and maintaining equipment, according to Ecology.

The town may appeal the fine to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

If the town pays the fine, it will go toward Ecology’s Coastal Protection Fund that issues grants for water quality restoration projects.

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