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Massive sewage spill closes Dyes Inlet beaches

Norma Hoem didn’t know what was going on Tuesday afternoon by her house but she knew it stunk to high heaven. Hoem, who lives on Northwest Bucklin Hill Road near Nels Nelson, smelled the stench of sewage at about 2 p.m. after county construction crews accidentally broke a sewage pipe while working on road construction on Nels Nelson Road, said Rick Gagnon with the Kitsap County Wastewater Division.

The road crews were installing a new culvert when the accident happened.

Once the sewage started leaking out, the crews had to find the right wrench to shut off the valve on the pipe to stop the flow.

An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 gallons of raw sewage leaked into a tributary of Barker Creek before the leak could be stopped. The sewage also leaked into into Dyes Inlet, according to a press release from the Kitsap County Health District.

It is difficult to estimate how much sewage leaked out because there are three factors that play into it, Gagnon said.

The size of the pipe and the hole in the pipe, how full the pipe was at the time of the accident and the slope of the pipe, which would help determine how quickly sewage would exit the pipe.

Crews had the pipe repaired by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Gagnon said.

The damaged part of the pipe had to be removed, replaced and secured with two bands.

As for the cleanup, the only thing the Health District can do is to wait for nature to run its course.

“For the most part it flushes out naturally,” Gagnon said.

There is one glitch, however. The sewage leak affected Hoem’s privately owned retention pond.

“We’re cleaning it up,” Gagnon said of Hoem’s retention pond. The water was being removed from Hoem’s pond on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s backed up into our retention pond,” she said. “I can see it and smell it. It stinks.”

According to the Health District’s Web site, a seven-day no-contact advisory was issued for Barker Creek and all of Dyes Inlet. The no-contact advisory includes shellfishing.

The shellfish harvest already was closed along Port Washington Narrows and within Phinney Bay, Ostrich Bay, Oyster Bay and the northern section of Dyes Inlet near the mouth of Clear Creek.

Warning signs have been posted at all the locations that have the health advisory warning.

For more information on the sewage spill or health advisories, go to www.kitsapcountyhealth.com.

To report a water quality issue, call the Health District’s Water Quality program at (360) 337-5235 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or call the 24-hour tip line at (800) 2BEWELL.

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