A record number of sewage-treatment plants in Washington state fully complied with state water-quality requirements in 2014, with 128 plants winning the coveted Outstanding Performance Award from the Department of Ecology.
The awards program has reached its 20th year, and the Manchester Wastewater Treatment Plant in South Kitsap remains ahead of the pack. It’s the only plant with a perfect score every year since the program began.
In the first year of Ecology’s awards program, only 14 plants across the state were recognized as doing everything right, but that number has grown nearly every year.
Last year, 128 winning treatment plants — more than a third of all the plants in the state — passed every environmental test, analyzed every required sample, turned in all reports and allowed no permit violations.
“The talents of our professional operators are critical to successful plant operations and protecting the health of Washington’s waters”, said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program, in a news release. “It is an honor to recognize their contributions with these awards.”
Kitsap County officials are rightly proud of the perfect record. Five years ago, in an article in Treatment Plant Operator magazine, lead operator Don Johnson said the success of the Manchester plant could be credited to the dedicated wastewater staff and support from all levels of county government. Don, who retired last year, has been replaced by Ken Young.
The magazine article may tell you more than you want to know about the design and operation of the Manchester plant. The plant was a modern facility when Ecology’s awards program was launched 20 years ago, and it has been kept up to date through the years.
Johnson stressed that treatment-plant operators should always be prepared for new developments.
“My advice is for them to remain adaptable and up to date,” he said. “There are many changes in the industry, and it’s important to pursue energy efficiency and create reusable resources.”
Reaching the 20-year mark deserves some kind of celebration for the Manchester plant. I would suggest organized tours of the facility, public recognition for all the plant workers through the years and maybe a slice of cake. So far, I’m told, no specific plans have been made.
A list of all the treatment plants in the state showing a history of their perfect scores (PDF 464 kb) can be downloaded from Ecology’s website.
Port Townsend’s treatment plant has had a perfect score for 19 of the 20 years, missing only 1997. Meeting the perfect standard for 16 of the past 20 years are two plants owned by the city of Vancouver — Marine Park and Westside.
Kitsap County’s Kingston plant has received the award for nine straight years. The county’s Suquamish plant, which is regulated by the Environmental Protection agency because it is on tribal land, has met all permit requirement for 15 years straight. (EPA does not issue awards.)