More than one-third of Washington's wastewater treatment plants - 127 - have received an Outstanding Performance Award from the state Department of Ecology for perfect performance in 2014.
Each of the plants passed all environmental tests, analyzed all samples, turned in all state-required reports, and avoided permit violations during 2014.
"The talents of our professional operators are critical to successful plant operations and protecting the health of Washington's waters. It is an honor to recognize their contributions with these awards," said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology's Water Quality program.
Ecology devised the annual awards program as an incentive for compliance, because wastewater treatment plant operations are the first line of defense to protect public health and water quality in our lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.
When the awards program began in 1995, only 14 treatment plants had perfect compliance.
This year, there were five first-time award winners:
* Willapa Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in Pacific County
* Lewis County Water District #2 Wastewater Treatment Plant
* Fort Flagler State Park Wastewater Treatment Plant in Jefferson County
* Loon Lake Sewer District No. 4 Wastewater Treatment Plant in Stevens County
* Selkirk School District No. 70 Wastewater Treatment Plant in Pend Oreille County
The Manchester Wastewater Treatment Plant in Kitsap County received its 20th consecutive award. Vancouver's Marine Park Treatment Plant in Clark County received special recognition for winning the award 10 years in a row. Five plants received special recognition for winning the award five years in a row.
State funding helps communities keep their plants operating successfully. In the current funding cycle, Ecology is offering $145 million in grants and loans to 21 wastewater treatment facilities for construction and preconstruction projects. In addition, the state provides technical assistance to many of small plants to help them operate successfully.
A complete list (by county) of the award winners for 2014 is on Ecology's website.