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Sewage spills into Percival Creek, prompting warning about water contact in area

Sewage spill that closed Percival Creek may have spread to Puget Sound

A sewage spill during a construction project at South Puget Sound Community College prompts trail and water closures amid concerns that contamination spread beyond Percival Creek into Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet.
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A sewage spill during a construction project at South Puget Sound Community College prompts trail and water closures amid concerns that contamination spread beyond Percival Creek into Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet.

People are being urged to avoid contact with the water in Percival Creek, Capitol Lake and inner Budd Inlet after a large volume of sewage spilled at South Puget Sound Community College’s Olympia campus earlier in the week.

The spill occurred south of parking lot H at SPSCC and contaminated Percival Creek downstream from a construction site. Public health officials are asking people and pets to avoid water contact until testing shows all the downstream water bodies are safe, a Thurston County Public Health news release said.

The county said it does not know when then spill began, but Thurston County Public Health and Social Services was notified on Tuesday, and immediately responded to the site to take samples. Initial water quality results received Thursday show that sewage did enter Percival Creek, according to the county.

It appears the spill was caused by construction activity, disrupting a sewer main that can carry as much as 200,000 gallons of sewage per day. Measures have been taken to ensure no additional sewage is spilled, the county news release said.

Health officials are unsure of the amount of sewage spilled. Public Health collected samples Thursday at SPSCC, downstream on Percival Creek, at West Bay Park, at West Bay Marina, and at Priest Point Park. Results are expected on Friday afternoon.

Water quality samples so far show that sewage entered Percival Creek upstream of the SPSCC footbridge. The bacteria levels in the water at the footbridge were more than 100 times higher than is considered safe. Percival Creek flows into Capitol Lake near the railroad tracks which then flows into Budd Inlet.

The construction company is responsible for the cleanup, the county news release said.

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