LETTER: Photos Show Potentially-Damaging Large Suds in Miller Creek

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Attached is a photo composite of several large suds piles in Miller Creek recorded November 26th, 2012.

One is 12-15 feet long, 2+ feet tall, 2-4 feet wide.

The suds begin to accumulate early every morning from 5 – 6 a.m.

This has to be very damaging to water quality in Miller Creek and for spawning salmon. My upstream neighbor reports suds sightings above the Elsey Creek (6th Ave. SW) confluence.

This daily input of suds is likely originating from Burien’s commercial or new vehicle car washes along First Avenue. The storm catches all along First Avenue drain to Miller Creek.

Previous input was found from 2 car dealerships, and a restaurant on 153rd dumping mop buckets into the storm drain.

After complaints were aired a while back, the suds events slowed but are now back with a vengeance.

– Brett Fish

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12 Responses to “LETTER: Photos Show Potentially-Damaging Large Suds in Miller Creek”
  1. Burienite says:

    Are you sure this is actually “very damaging to water quality in Miller Creek and for spawning salmon”? Do you have documented research that’s shown it? From the articles I’ve seen, these last few years have been the first in decades that spawning salmon are actually returned to Miller Creek – which is a huge improvement over years past. For the past 30+ years I’ve lived in the area, I’ve seen the foam visible. Sometimes more … sometimes less.

    • Brett says:

      Pre-spawn mortality continues almost unabated. Fish have ALWAYS been in Miller Creek, just more or less and poisoned or not with all the chemical insults we subject them to. Sea-Tac Airport was really bad for decades (since 1948) but they’ve cleaned up most of their act and are more or less walking the talk about being the greenest airport in the country. Copper from airplane and automobile brakes continue to suffocate the fish.

      Car wash soap has at least a dozen chemicals in it..Think it’s safe? Read the label sometime and imagine what that is doing to the tender gills fish breath with. Soap in your eyes-burning?? This isn’t a PhD level problem. It’s you and me.

      People dump incredible stuff into “storm sewers” thinking it is treated. It isn’t, does NOT go to a sewer plant. It goes straight into Miller Creek, rug doctors, oil pans, lawn chemicals, herbicides, engine degreaser, dripping oil leaks, heating oil leaks, “Round Up”, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, McDonalds straws from the ’60’s, every bad we’ve done, car wash is the most visible besides oil sheens and gasoline spills.

      • Burienite says:

        Hey there, “Burienite” is my handle and I’ve posted here many times. BTB can confirm as my email validates. Pick another nickname there fella! Lol…

  2. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    De-icer from Sea-Tac?

    • Brett says:

      Wouldn’t rule it out-the drip & shear from aircraft departing, taxiing is not captured by their industrial waste plant. It’s loaded with bad stuff too.

  3. Erik Robbins says:

    Organic dissolved carbon.

  4. Shari says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I had been told that using commercial car washes was a way to conserve water compared to washing your car in your driveway–Is that true? And do all commercial car washes routinely direct their runoff into storm catches? If it’s not the norm, is it possible to figure out which ones are doing it? I’d be interested to know which ones to avoid.

    • Brett says:

      It is true that commercial car washes recycle their wash and rinse water. They are the best alternative for washing your car.

      Car wash runoff seems to be from First Ave. car lots washing their inventory. Suds and soap have been seen running across their lots into their on site storm drains which drain to Miller Creek.

      One new car dealership on First Ave. was contacted through back channels a while back when their new car stickers were identified in the stream. Their response was nearly instant when serious charges for Clean Water Act violations were suggested as an alternative to refusing to remedy the problem. It’s always cheaper to do the right thing.

  5. Debi Wagner says:

    Back in the late 90’s the CASE group got solid proof the airports IWS does not treat glycol, only diluates it before release into Des Moines and Miller Creeks. A head of foam can form on a creek from glycol runoff which not only drips off departing planes as you said, but can also be deposited directly since containment/pads at Sea-Tac don’t exist (unless they built them when they re-paved which should have included replacement of leaking and corroded hydrant lines). And although you and I would be fined for depositing our anti-freeze into the storm drains, SeaTac in the past (I don’t know about the present and havent seen proof of changes) is exempt. There are no federal regulations for airports with regard to glycol. In fact, the NPDES permit governms their releases and goes through the DOE which is another long process which does not include glycol regulation, that almost never brings the $25,000 per day fines that it should for documented fuel spills, etc. Like the air releases, the airport will blame cars, homeowners, flying saucers, anything else to take the heat. It would be quite a coincidence that dozens of homeowners would spill a thousand gallons of glycol all along Miller Creek, all on the same day. Sea-Tac uses de-icer over 200 days per year. Not a difficult puzzle to solve, but a political hot button to push. The worst part is how they do so well at keeping their dirty industrial relases a guarded secret. Sea-Tac is one of the greatest producers of toxic emissions in the state, second largest producer of green house gas emissions, potentially the greatest producer of airborne lead emissions in the state. Going green? Should be more like green is going.

  6. Jean Spohn says:

    Today I walked along Miller creek for the CSI (Community Salmon Investigation) study and I confirm seeing many piles of suds along the banks. In the past month I have counted over 30 salmon who died before they could spawn in the creek. Just imagine trying to breathe in soapy water. That is what the Coho and Chum salmon face as they swim upstream to create the next generation. Thanks to Brett and Debi for your observations about the source of the toxins that kill animals living in our local streams.

  7. Debi Wagner says:

    I’ve copied the article for Greg Wingard, Brett Fish, the national group Aviation Justice and sent a complaint to EPA water quality enforcement department at Region X ([email protected]) If others desire to get involved it will help to get action. We all benefit from our great natural resources so when they are harmed we are harmed as well..

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