Department of Ecology News Release - August 4, 2021

126 wastewater treatment plants recognized for their performance in 2020

Facility employees protected Washington’s waters during pandemic

Cowiche Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant is one of five facilities in Yakima County being recognized for outstanding performance in 2020. 


In 2020, wastewater treatment plant operators faced unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. Facility staff kept the plants running 24 hours a day, seven days a week while also managing an influx of wipes, masks, and gloves clogging up their systems and causing serious problems. Despite these challenges, 40% of Washington’s treatment plants earned top-performing status in 2020.

Wastewater treatment plant operators play a critical role in keeping Washington’s water safe and clean. They have to deal with everything homes and businesses dump in or flush down the drain, regardless of if the materials should be going down the drain in the first place.

In spite of a global pandemic, 126 wastewater treatment plants across the state earned the Department of Ecology’s Outstanding Wastewater Treatment Plant Award by achieving full compliance with their water quality permits in 2020. Four facilities are receiving the award for the first time, a great accomplishment in a challenging year. (See the full list of recipients)

“Wastewater treatment plant operators demonstrated just how resilient, talented, and dedicated they are by what they accomplished in 2020.” said Vince McGowan, Ecology’s water quality program manager. “Their efforts help protect water quality for all of us. Now is the time to thank your local wastewater treatment plant operator.”

Ecology evaluated more than 300 treatment plants operating in Washington to determine how they were meeting the state pollution limits, monitoring and reporting requirements, spill prevention planning, pretreatment, and operation demands outlined in their permits.

Treatment plant operators work in close collaboration with Ecology to meet their water quality permits and can apply for state funding to help upgrade and improve their systems. Ecology also provides technical assistance to help plants operate successfully.

To learn more about the awards, awardees, and the importance of our state’s wastewater treatment operators, read Ecology’s blog post.

Contact information

Colleen Keltz
Twitter: ecologywa