Department of Ecology News Release - October 7, 2016
OLYMPIA – Where does the dirty water go when you flush the toilet and drain the sink?
If you live in an urban area, it goes to your local wastewater treatment plant so it can be cleaned up before it’s discharged back into the environment.
Wastewater plants are the first line of defense to protect public health and clean water. Because this work is so critical, the Washington Department of Ecology honors our state’s top-performing wastewater treatment plants with the Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance Award. The agency has recognized 119 wastewater treatment plants across Washington that achieved full compliance with their water quality permits in 2015. That’s about a third of the wastewater treatment plants operating in the state.
“We appreciate the extraordinary level of effort plant operators demonstrated throughout 2015. Talented and proficient operators are critical to successful plant operations and protecting the health of Washington’s waters,” said Heather Bartlett, who manages Ecology’s Water Quality Program.
In picking the winners, Ecology evaluated all of the plants in Washington for compliance with meeting pollution limits, monitoring and reporting requirements, spill prevention planning, pretreatment, and overall operational demands of their water quality permit.
Six plants now have perfect performance for 10 years in a row:
Five plants received the award for the first time:
A complete list of the award winners for 2015 is on Ecology’s website.
When the awards program began in 1995, only 14 treatment plants had perfect compliance, compared to the 119 honored this year.
State funding helps communities upgrade their aging systems to address water quality issues and improve functionality so the plants can operate successfully. The funding especially helps smaller communities, such as award recipients Concrete, Kettle Falls and Klickitat PUD, which have received Centennial Clean Water Program grants and Clean Water State Revolving Fund low-interest loans.
Ecology recently offered $96 million in grants and loans to 26 wastewater treatment facility projects. In addition, Ecology provides technical assistance to many small plants to help them operate successfully.
Along with funding and awards, Ecology oversees the certification program for wastewater operators – the people who actually run wastewater treatment plants.
“Washington’s growing population creates a greater need for wastewater treatment every day and we encourage people to go into this field because there are jobs to be had,” Bartlett added.
Find out more about the state’s wastewater operator certification program a at Ecology’s website.
Sandy Howard, communications, 360-407-6408, @ecologyWA
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