Legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen released the song Glory Days in 1984 as a biting commentary on people who rest on past laurels for the remainder of their lives. We’ve all known someone like that. There’s a bright, early success, the big award, and then they figure they’ve done it all and they just keep telling the same story over and over.
At King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD), we have a legendary success story to tell. Fifty years ago, we flipped the switch on our first two wastewater treatment plants, treating wastewater that once used to flow straight into our waterways. Our waters became cleaner almost overnight. WTD has continued award winning operations to this day.
But at WTD, we aren’t resting on our laurels for the next fifty years. WTD envisions a future as “an innovative and resilient clean water enterprise revolutionizing the recovery of valuable resources for sustainable communities”. We are expanding beyond wastewater operations to being managers of sustainable products and leaders seeking environmental and social solutions.
On September 27, 2016, WTD received recognition of the work that turns this vision into reality. WTD is proud to be among 61 recipients of the inaugural Utility of the Future Today (UOTF) Joint Recognition Program. A partnership of water sector organizations created the UOTF Recognition Program, designed to “celebrate the progress and exceptional performance of our nation’s wastewater utilities while supporting the widespread adoption of the innovative UOTF business model.”
“Many utilities optimize their operations, consistently meet or exceed their regulatory requirements, and engage their employees and communities in meaningful and productive ways,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “We are excited about this new opportunity to recognize the achievements of small, medium and large forward-thinking utilities that are providing sustainable, efficient, and value-added service to their communities.”
What’s our story?
WTD’s culture of continuous improvement ensures that our success stories are always fresh. With the Bright Ideas program, we ask the employees who do the work, how to reduce waste and improve our business. Teams are working to streamline processes and save time when we plan and build needed wastewater infrastructure. We empower them to make changes that solve problems and save time and money.
WTD illustrates King County’s commitment to confront the effects of climate change. We produce and beneficially land apply biosolids, returning carbon and nutrients to the soil and building healthy farms and forests. We keep the water cycle turning by recycling water from the wastewater treatment process. Recycled water helps to offset effects of drought by keeping water in our rivers for fish and people. We produce renewable energy. Our energy program strives to recover increasing amounts of energy from the wastewater treatment process, and reduce energy use in our system.
At WTD, we believe that engaging communities and enlisting people in the campaign for water quality and a sustainable future is key. Through partnerships like RainWise and grant programs, we empower individuals and communities to take local action to protect our waterways. WTD employees attend community fairs, festivals, and events with fun activities that connect people to water quality.
We invest in community outreach, engagement, and education. We continually look for new and better ways to meet our communities where they’re at, and keep them up to date and informed.
When we build wastewater projects in communities, we engage our project neighbors, support them throughout the life of a project, and help them understand how they can help protect the sewer system and our waterways.
As a recognized Utility of the Future-Today, WTD is among leaders transforming traditional wastewater utilities. We will continue telling all the stories that support WTD’s ongoing commitment to being an integral part of our region’s vibrant, sustainable future, and the cornerstone of a best-run government.
Come back often to see what’s new. Sure, you’ll hear about our glory days from our storied past. But we promise you’ll hear a lot of new stories as King County Wastewater Treatment Division leads the way as our region’s Utility of the Future- Today.