Flushed Toxic Chemicals Left Town Water Treatment Plant’s pH Level ‘Dangerously Low’

Nearby RV Dump Station Temporarily Closed as a Result

From the town of Friday Harbor

The town of Friday Harbor urgently requests that all users of its sewer system refrain from adding toxic fluids and nondegradable items into the waste stream.

“A properly functioning sewer system is absolutely critical for the health of coastal communities,” said Town Administrator Duncan Wilson.

He said the town continues to upgrade its system to meet all regulations and to protect the town and the coastline, but no system is designed to handle trash and dangerous chemicals.


A toxic chemical recently flushed or dumped into the system caused the pH level of the plant to drop dangerously low and forced the town to temporarily close its RV dump station. The station is located near the treatment plant, and wastewater deposited there goes directly into the plant without any opportunity for dilution.

“If there are toxins in that wastewater, it puts the system at risk,” said Wilson. “This is a good time to remind us all to properly dispose of toxic chemicals, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications outside of the town wastewater system to eliminate the potential of contaminating our fragile treatment system.”


Citizens and visitors are also being reminded to place nondegradable items in the trash.

This includes any paper heavier than toilet paper, any type of wipe (baby, facial, sanitary, “flushable”), cotton balls, sanitary products, diapers, rags, coffee grounds, cat litter, dead animals, cigarette butts, cooking oil, grease, lard, and anything else that won’t break down after an hour in water.

In addition to clogging pipes and creating sewer backups for unsuspecting customers, accumulated trash items can and have caused serious damage to the treatment facility.

The RV station is scheduled to reopen next week. Access will be available 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, and users must pay a $20 dump fee and place a $20 deposit at town hall to pick up a key. Commercial use of the station is limited. For more information about the town wastewater system, go to www.fridayharbor.org.

Posted on July 22, 2021 at 7:53 am by

Categories: Government, Safety
One comment:

One comment...

  1. This is great Information. Cooperation from our local retailers (markets, drug stores) could nip problems in the bud….perhaps signage at the “@Tide” pods soap site, hygiene products, and other disposed-of-goods would at least let people know….we also have to have outreach into the mobile home community.

    Reps sitting at the entrance to retailers could have pictures of these products creating harm at the plant. It makes the problem no longer an abstraction.

    Comment by Jamie rackley schiff on July 22, 2021 at 11:41 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0
%d bloggers like this: