Biosolids and digesters and sludge, oh my! Summer interns tour South Plant

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By Isabelle Trujillo, WTD intern

What do brisk walking, new facts, and interesting sites all have in common? They are all part of the South Treatment Plant tour! As a summer intern at WTD, many options are given to us to get to know the different facilities in the regional system. One of them being a tour of the South Treatment Plant located in Renton. Expanding over 80 acres and covered in patches of trees, the South Plant facility gave similar first impressions to some of the interns.

“It was a lot bigger than I was expecting it to be. And I also thought that the grounds were very nice and well taken care of,” states Alex Cole, a project management intern. “It didn’t look like how a waste water treatment facility would look in my mind – or maybe my pre-WTD mind.”

Jyoti Bodas, an industrial waste intern, had the same thoughts.

“It was a lot bigger than I thought it was. They have a standard set of processes but they’re spanned out over quite a large area and different buildings and such.”

At these tours, you’re given an educational, up close, and personal view of the treatment process done at these facilities. The other interns and I, led by tour guides Jim Pitts and Katelyn Hunt, were taken step by step through the process and given a view of what goes on above and below the treatment plant.

When asked what her favorite thing was that she saw on the tour, Jyoti responded with the Bio-digesters. In high school, she had worked on a small scale project revolving anaerobic digestion and thought it was interesting to see it on a larger scale.

“To see a large one, spanning a room… was kind of cool. Just to see how it would be built on an industrial level.”

As someone who was not very knowledgeable about the wastewater treatment process at these plants prior to becoming a WTD intern, there was a vast expanse of information to learn and ground to cover. Our tour guides were helpful and informative and led the tour in a way that kept all of the interns engaged and eager to soak in more information.

Not only does this facility treat wastewater, but located on site is 1.5 acres of land dedicated to the CitySoil Farm. Once an unused part of the treatment plant’s grounds, it has been transformed into an urban agriculture that is dedicated to environmental education and sustainable farming. While we didn’t get to tour the CitySoil Farm on this trip, another opportunity has been given to the interns to learn more about CitySoil through a separate tour later on in the summer.

Being able to go on a tour like this allowed me to see all that the South Treatment does to treat the wastewater before King County returns it to the environment.