PACIFIC COUNTY — The Long Beach, Fort Columbia State Park and Willapa Regional wastewater treatment plants were recently honored for perfect performance during 2015. However, due to ongoing maintenance and performance issues, the Ilwaco Wastewater Treatment Plant did not make the state Department of Ecology’s list of honorees for the first time in several years.
Wastewater treatment plants play a critical role in protecting public health and the environment, by ensuring that the water that enters municipal sewer systems meets healthy and safety standards before it is discharged into the environment.
According to the DOE’s wastewater treatment webpage, “Untreated sewage spreads a number of deadly diseases, including cholera and typhoid. These diseases are now largely absent in developed nations thanks to modern water and wastewater treatment — but they still plague developing countries that lack modern sanitation.”
In all, there are about 300 wastewater treatment plants in Washington. The DOE permits the plants, certifies wastewater treatment workers, and enforces state treatment standards. Each year, DOE officials evaluate each plant’s compliance with state law, the terms of their permits, monitoring and reporting requirements, spill prevention planning, the quality of the facilities, among other things. In all, 119 of the state’s treatment plants achieved full compliance with their permits in 2015.
Long Beach had perfect compliance for the first time in 2008. Since then, it has made the list every year except 2012. Fort Columbia achieved perfect compliance in 2009, 2010, and 2015. Willapa Regional WWTP achieved perfect compliance for the first time in 2014. Ilwaco first received the award in 2006, and made the list every year through 2014.
The Ilwaco plant “… did not get the award this past year, because it had deferred maintenance for so long. The plant was starting to break down, and there were violations,” DOE spokeswoman Sandy Howard said in an Oct. 25 email. “Plant staff have diligently worked on repairs, and we are hopeful the situation is improving. We are monitoring the plant closely.”