Manchester plant continues to excel in sewage treatment

The Manchester Wastewater Treatment Plant has done it again, earning a perfect performance award for compliance with its state water-quality permit.

The Manchester plant, operated by Kitsap County, remains ahead of the pack, being the only sewage-treatment plant in Washington state with a perfect score since the Department of Ecology launched its Outstanding Performance Awards program in 1995. That’s 23 years.

Port Townsend Wastewater Treatment Plant has maintained perfect performance for 20 years, and six plants have reached that level for 10 consecutive years. For this year alone, 111 treatment plants achieved perfect scores — about a third of all the plants in the state.

“Washington’s growing population creates a greater need for wastewater treatment every day,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program in a news release. “Talented and proficient plant operators are critical to meeting this challenge and ensuring successful plant operations that protect the health of Washington’s waters.”

The number of plants with perfect scores has been generally increasing through the years. The secret to success is making sure that the equipment is up-to-date and well-maintained, that operators are well-trained and that expectations are high, as successive operators at the Manchester plant have told me through the years.

To reach a perfect score, plants must meet state pollution limits, monitor and report on effluent discharges, train for spill prevention and perform other tasks required by their discharge permits.

While Manchester and Port Townsend lead the way, six other plants have had perfect performance scores for 10 years or more. They are treatment plants at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, and the communities of Forks, Cle Elum, Moses Lake-Larson, Klickitat, Okanogan and Omak.

The list of award winners for this year include five treatment plants in Kitsap County: City of Bainbridge Island, City of Bremerton, Kitsap County Sewer District 7 (Fort Ward), Manchester and Messenger House Care Center on Bainbridge Island.

Ecology’s announcement of this year’s winners for sewer performance comes on the heels of an estimated 80,000-gallon sewage spill into Bremerton’s Sinclair Inlet over a two week period. A Navy sewer line apparently became clogged and redirected raw sewage into a stormwater outfall near Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, according to a story by reporter Julianne Stanford in the Kitsap Sun.

Manchester’s sewer facilities are undergoing a major upgrade with the reconstruction of three pump stations and replacement or renovation of sewer lines along the beach. For details, check out Kitsap County’s website on the sewer project.

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