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Natural Resources and Parks

King County, Washington
2005 DNRP archived news: this news release may include broken links and outdated information such as programs and contacts that no longer exist.
Dec. 1, 2005

King County's wastewater utility management earns national recognition for excellence

2005 Archived News

The King County Wastewater Treatment Division has been selected to receive one of only seven national awards in 2005 for excellence in management from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, or NACWA.

"King County truly embodies the spirit of the Excellence in Management Recognition Program," said Ken Kirk, NACWA executive director. "It is an honor and an inspiration to showcase the achievements and commitment of our nation's public wastewater utilities to America's waters."

The NACWA is a 300-member trade association representing publicly owned wastewater treatment utilities in the United States. It annually recognizes utilities that have successfully carried out progressive management initiatives to tackle a range of management challenges facing the clean-water community.

"I've been impressed by the leadership of our Wastewater Treatment Division in serving the ratepayers in our 34 local sewer agencies," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "Division Director Don Theiler and his team skillfully manage programs and employees dedicated to protecting public health, water quality and the environment we enjoy in this region."

Kirk explained that King County's regional wastewater utility was chosen for its significant efforts during the past several years. NACWA evaluated the utility in five areas:

  • its long-term facilities plan called the Regional Wastewater Services Plan. King County is carrying out a plan to add treatment plant capacity, improve wastewater pipelines and pump stations, reclaim wastewater for beneficial uses, reduce inflow of stormwater and infiltration of groundwater to sewer pipes, and control combined overflows of stormwater and sewage during heavy storms.
  • its environmental management system for recycling biosolids, a nutrient-rich byproduct of wastewater treatment.
  • its employee training program to improve safety and communication, resolve conflicts, and improve work-related skills and knowledge.
  • its "win-win" partnership between management and labor known as the Productivity Program." The program uses private-sector business practices to cut costs and increase employee productivity while providing a high level of service and environmental protection.
  • resource conservation activities at its wastewater treatment plants that clean and reuse gas, solids and water from the treatment process. The gas generates heat and energy; the water is reclaimed for irrigation; and the solids are used as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. One example is the cutting-edge fuel cell using gas produced at the South Treatment Plant in Renton.

Also contributing to the utility's selection were its Industrial Waste Program, including outreach to dentists and specific industrial dischargers, and the utility's public education activities, including treatment plant tours, participation in local events, Web site and other public information material, and active community outreach effort.

King County will receive its award during NACWA's 2006 winter conference Jan. 31-Feb. 3 in Palm Desert, Calif.

For more information about King County's clean-water programs and projects, visit the Wastewater Treatment Division Web site.

King County's Wastewater Treatment Division protects public health and water quality by serving 17 cities, 17 local sewer utilities and more than 1.4 million residents in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Formerly called Metro, the regional clean-water agency now operated by King County has been preventing water pollution for more than 40 years.