The day use area and first camping loop at Penrose Point State Park reopened last week after over three months of renovation and upgrades to the park’s sewer system.
The park, located along the southeast side of Mayo Cove in Lakebay, was closed on Sept. 17 at the end of the busy summer season. The day use and first camping loop are the only areas of the park typically open during the winter.
The retrofit of the sewer system included the installation of four new fiberglass wastewater tanks and the combination of septic drain fields to move them farther from the park’s shoreline. Electrical upgrades also were included. The project was contracted to Shelton-based Kamin Excavation LLC.
Penrose Point was one of 26 state parks targeted in former governor Chris Gregoire’s 2006 plan to improve water quality in Puget Sound and Hood Canal.
“This was a proactive project,” said Washington State Parks spokesperson Sandy Mealing. “There were no system failures, but it was an old septic system and the drain field was too close to the shoreline. It’s important to protect the shoreline.”
Mealing said that some minor cleanup remains to be done, and that the trailer dump station and boat pumpout will remain closed until Feb. 8 while construction crews wait on new electrical panels. She said that moorage at the park is still available.
The second camping loop is expected to open in early May, while the rest of the park will open, as it does every year, for Memorial Day weekend.
Visitors to Penrose Point shouldn’t expect any visual changes, Mealing said, though she added that they can look forward to cleaner water and, if the septic tank system was ever to leak, a better-protected shoreline.
“It’s all behind-the-scenes stuff,” Mealing said.
SHELLFISH HARVESTING UNAFFECTED
Recreational shellfish harvesting, another popular activity at Penrose Point, remains unaffected by the changes to the sewage system, according to the state Department of Health.
“Anything that might impact our growing area, we do an assessment,” said Scott Berbells, a supervisor at the department’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection.
Berbells said water quality at shellfish harvesting sites was monitored year-round, and the quality at Penrose Point met the standard for an approved area.
The office issues advisories for areas in which harvesting shellfish could be hazardous to health, and that can sometimes include sewage disposal areas.
There is an advisory against recreational harvesting in one area at Penrose Point, the southwest quarter-mile of Mayo Cove, but Berbells said that was due to the park’s marina and not because of sewage treatment.
The Department of Health is required to create an advisory zone in any area where more than 10 boats are docked.
Berbells said his office conducts periodic pollution-source assessments that take into consideration runoff from sewage systems, drainage systems, farms, water treatment centers and any other possible water pollutants.
“We want to know the status of everything around all of our areas,” Berbells said.