Monday, August 5, 2019

These wastewater treatment plants earn an A+ in clean water

110 facilities recognized for their top performance 

Be honest, have you ever flushed a disposable wipe down the toilet? Did you pour the leftover grease from cooking down the kitchen drain? If you answered yes and are connected to the local sewer system, we suggest you thank a wastewater treatment plant operator!

LOTT - Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Thurston County - 
Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of this year's award winners. 
Why? Because wastewater treatment plants – the place where anything that goes down the drain or toilet at homes and businesses ends up – deal with everything we put down the pipes that aren’t supposed to be there. These facilities keep Washington’s waters clean, by keeping pathogens, chemicals, trash, and sewage out of our water. 

Keeping a wastewater treatment plant in top-performing condition can be a tough job,  so every year we recognize these top-notch facilities and their operators. 

Thank you to Washington’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators

Our Deputy Directory, Polly Zehm, knows first-hand the challenges operators face. Early in her career, Polly was a wastewater treatment plant operator.

What this award means

We talked to employees at a few wastewater treatment plants to get a better sense of what this award means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

“The Outstanding Performance Award is important to all the personnel who work in and around the WWTP. It signifies the WWTP operators, Collection crews, staff, and management are collaborating as a team, paying attention to detail and supporting one another. It means that from the newest WWTP Operator to the Crewleader that ideas are valued for the successful operation of our plant,” said Dean Bugher, City of Kennewick’s Wastewater Services Crewleader. “Staying knowledgeable about our craft and up-to-date on compliance issues along with properly maintaining our equipment aids in our success. This in turn helps us to achieve a quality effluent which everyone can be proud of, knowing that we have done our part in keeping the aquatic environment around us clean, healthy and safe for all who use and enjoy.”

Matt Jenkins, the Public Works Manager for the City of La Center shared similar sentiments, saying “The positivity and pride that the operators get from achieving the award permeates through the entire organization. This award is one of the major goals we as a staff set for ourselves every single year. The staff strives to get the five year plaque on the horizon and the annual award is a fantastic affirmation of that effort.”

For some facilities, the award sparks some friendly competition. Mike Henry, the Operator in Responsible Charge of the Olympic Corrections Center said “We have won the award quite a few times and I think everyone is determined to win the award because they don’t want to be the first group of operators to not win it. The operators are proud of the awards. We have them hanging in the lab, except for the ones hanging in our administration building. That makes me think that our administration is as proud of our achievements as we are.”

This year’s winners
Here are a few highlights from this year’s awards. The full list of awardees is available online. 
Facilities with the most consecutive years of outstanding performance: 
  • Manchester (Kitsap Co.) 24 years 
  • Port Townsend WWTP 23 years 
The Sedro-Woolley team has won this award 17 times. 
Facilities with more than 15 years of outstanding performance, not necessarily consecutive: 
  • Newport, 19 years 
  • Salmon Creek (Discovery Clean Water Alliance), 19 years 
  • Vancouver Marine Park and Westside, 18 years
  • Sedro-Woolley, 17 years
  • Lake Mayfield, 16 years
  • Penn Cove Water & Sewer District, 16 years
  • Seattle City Light – Diablo, 16 years 
This year we have a number of first time winners: 
  • Seashore Villa Mobile Home Park 
  • Enumclaw 
  • Ione
  • King County South Plant
  • Sekiu
  • Snoqualmie
  • WA State Patrol Fire Training Academy 
Congratulations to these facilities and all 110 facilities for their hard working in protecting Washington’s waters. 

The Asotin Wastewater Treatment Plant is another one 
of this year's winners

Be a part of the solution

Ecology oversees the certification program for wastewater operators. Given our state’s growing population, we need to treat more and more wastewater. This is a great field, with growth opportunities. If you have experience as a welder, machinist, mechanic, operator at other similar facilities, laboratory technician, or engineer, you might have the right type of experience for this field! Check out our certification program website for more information. 

By: Colleen Keltz, Communications Manager for Water Quality

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