One of the largest concert venues in the Northwest is in trouble with the Washington Health Department. The Gorge Amphitheater turns into a small city during summer music festivals like Sasquatch and Paradiso. But in a warning letter this week, health officials told concert producer Live Nation that its waste water practices are inadequate and could pose a threat to public health and the environment.
For each festival, as many as 25,000 people camp out on fields overlooking the Columbia River.
Regulators say large balloon-like tanks that collect water from the campground showers don’t meet state standards. Gray water from wash stations is seeping into the ground through an illegal system of makeshift drains. And without better monitoring equipment, the state can’t tell if a decades-old sewage system is up to par.
Health department engineer Richard Benson says the letter was the latest of several notices.
“They failed to renew their permit last year, then they missed their deadline to submit sampling data,” said Benson. “Then they semi-complied with what we asked them to in November.”
He says Live Nation has made changes, but it’s been slow.
In a written statement, Live Nation officials say they’re working on it and plan to spend over a million dollars on upgrades to water facilities at the site.
Most of the bathrooms on-site are port-a-potties. Benson says waste from those is being trucked out and disposed of properly.
Meanwhile, the small hospital in Quincy, Wash. is asking the concert producer to help cover the cost of providing medical care to concert-goers suffering from alcohol poisoning, overdoses and dehydration.
Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network