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News Release

Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, MPA
Public Works Information and Outreach Manager
Office: 509-477-7195

Environmental Services and Water Reclamation Facility Receive Awards

SPOKANE COUNTY, August 8, 2019 – The Spokane County Environmental Services Department has been internationally recognized for its leadership and presented with the Utility of the Future Today award for Watershed Stewardship.  In addition, the Washington State Department of Ecology has given the county’s Regional Water Reclamation Facility their 2018 Outstanding Performance Award!

Utility of the Future Today Award
The Utility of the Future Today Award recognizes the leadership of Spokane County in Watershed Stewardship, including regional water resource planning, water quality monitoring, wastewater treatment and solid waste management.  This year, a total of 43 water utilities were honored.

This is the second consecutive year that Environmental Services has received the award.  In 2018, the award was for “Partnering and Engagement” in recognition of the county’s Water Resource Center’s public outreach with local school districts, environmental groups and many other partners.

Upon receiving news of the award for Watershed Stewardship, Environmental Services Director Kevin Cooke said, “Our primary mission is to protect surface and groundwater in the Spokane River watershed from contamination.  The water that is returned to the environment from the Spokane County Regional Water Reclamation Facility is extremely clean.  We are very fortunate and proud to have a facility that employs the most reliable and advanced technology available to reclaim clean water from the wastewater that we all generate every day.”
Background - Utility of the Future Today
The Utility of the Future framework provides a model for utilities of all sizes to achieve more efficient operations, enhanced productivity, and long-term sustainability. The recognition program component, Utility of the Future Today, was launched in 2016 by four water sector organizations—the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and WateReuse, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  To learn more, go to https://www.wef.org/utility-of-the-future

DOE – Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance Award
The county’s Regional Water Reclamation Facility also garnered top-performing status from the State Department of Ecology and received the 2018 Wastewater Treatment Plant Outstanding Performance Award.

According to Polly Zehm, the Department of Ecology’s Deputy Director, “Wastewater treatment plant operators are local heroes.  They are protecting water quality every day and deal with everything you flush or put down the drain.  That includes some things you probably shouldn’t be putting down the drain, things like those disposal wipes.”

Ecology evaluated more than 300 plants operating in Washington to determine if they were meeting the state pollution limits and permit requirements, which include: monitoring, reporting, spill prevention planning, pretreatment, and operational demands.  They found that 110 systems across the state, including the Spokane County Regional Water Reclamation Facility had achieved full compliance with their water quality permits in 2018, and honored the top performers with the annual award.  The complete list of award winners is available at https://ecology.wa.gov/.

About Spokane County
Spokane County government serves more than 500,000 citizens and 13 municipal jurisdictions, making it the fourth largest county in the State of Washington.  For more information, visit www.spokanecounty.org, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

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