Lopez Island wastewater treatment plant wins award Record third of state’s wastewater treatment plants perfect in 2008

Fisherman Bay Sewer District personnel

Wastewater treatment plant operations just keep getting better in Washington to the benefit of citizens and clean water.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) found 92 wastewater (sewer) treatment plants in the state had perfect track records in 2008. This amounts to nearly one-third of the state’s treatment plants, a sharp rise from 78 plants that earned the honor in 2007. The award-winning plants passed all environmental tests, analyzed all samples, turned in all state-required reports and avoided permit violations during 2008.

Included in this was Lopez Island’s wastewater treatment plant, which has won the 2008 Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance Award.

“New projects for the sewer plant this year include the relining of the old lagoon so we may use is it for a storage basin and storm surge pond,” Peggy Gordon, District Clerk, commented. “It is also the first component in planned reusable water. We (the Lopez Island plant) also received a $60,000 grant from San Juan County in June to help pay for this project and we will use the savings to have engineering done for a septage receiving station at the sewer plant.”

Doris Aitken, former Commissioner, was instrumental as well as the current administration in helping the plant achieve compliance.

The perfect-performing plants are located in 30 of Washington’s 39 counties. Nineteen of the plants discharge their treated water into Puget Sound.

“This clean water success is a reflection of Washington’s ongoing financial investments to help communities build and upgrade wastewater treatment plants, a strong certification program that keeps plant operators well trained, and the skills and dedication of the operators,” said Kelly Susewind, manager of Ecology’s water quality program.

In the state’s new budget, Ecology will award nearly $108.7 million for wastewater treatment facility projects across the state in 2010. This funding helps pay for new construction and upgrades to plants. Nearly half of this funding comes from federal stimulus dollars.

Representatives from Ecology will present “Outstanding Performance Awards” to the wastewater treatment plant operators at public events in the coming weeks.

“These treatment plants do the heavy lifting for clean water in Puget Sound and across the state,” Susewind said. “Our growing population puts more pressure on these facilities every day.”

Small facilities typically perform at least 60 laboratory tests per month on the treated wastewater. A larger facility may perform well over 120 analyses per month. “With the number of tests these plant operators must perform, there is a lot of opportunity for problems and these professionals passed the test all year long,” Susewind added.

Before Ecology’s recognition program began in 1995, it found just 14 treatment plants in perfect compliance.