Redondo's royal treatment



The folks down at the Redondo wastewater treatment plant are doing what most people never give a second thought –– and doing it well.

For the second time in three years, the plant operated by Lakehaven Utility District has been honored by the state Department of Ecology as one of the cleanest-running wastewater plants in Washington.

Thirty-one one of the approximately 300 facilities statewide will receive a DOE Outstanding Wastewater Treatment Plant for meeting every environmental requirement in 2002 laid out by the state agency, including having no sewage leaks.

The award “means a lot to these guys,” said Lee Schumacher, supervisor of Lakehaven’s two treatment plants. “They’re very serious about doing a good job.”

The district’s Lakota plant won the award for 2001 and just missed in 2002 because of a relatively minor shortcoming, Schumacher said.

Wastewater plants, operating with DOE permits, treat household sewage and industrial waste before discharging it from the plants into waterways or spreading it on dry land. The state requires wastewater to be treated with all available and reasonable technology.

The facility in Redondo was built in 1963 as a primary treatment plant and was upgraded in 1993 to a secondary plant. The difference is in the type of treatment processes. Primary plants use chlorine, a chemical that’s hard on natural environments when the wastewater is pumped out. Secondary plants use more scientific techniques, including ultra-violet equipment, resulting in much cleaner wastewater flowing into Puget Sound.

The treated water comes out of a pipe lying at the bottom of the Sound, 130 feet beneath the surface of Poverty Bay. Schumacher said the flow is diffused in three directions for better distribution.

About 3 million gallons of wastewater goes through the system each day. It comes from a populatoin area of 46,000 in north Federsl Way –– 110 square miles bordered by South 288th Street, 51st Avenue and Puget Sound.

Five full-time employees operate the plant, handling daily maintenance and operations Monday through Friday. An on-call worker checks for two hours each day on weekends to make sure everything’s running smoothly.

The plant is in a ravine near South 287th Street, with homes above on each side. Even the neighbors pay little attention to it, which is common for something that’s generally out of sight and out of mind, officials said.

”The biggest thing is when most people flush their toilets, they don’t think about where it goes,” Schumacher said. If did, they might refrain from dumping grease down drains or toilets. The congealed stuff can gum up the wastewater works. He said most overflows of sewer mains are caused by grease, often from heavy producers such as restaurants. The district uses its newsletters to remind people of what shouldn’t go down drains.

"Running one of these plants isn't easy. It's a round-the-clock job of

enormous complexity," said Megan White, who manages DOE's

water-quality program.

White said award-winning plants like the Redondo facility "have worked incredibly hard to prevent pollution and protect the quality of water."

DOE’s of reviews every treatment plant's tests, reports and on-site inspections determined the cleanest of the clean in 2002. The only other winners in King County were the Miller Creek and Salmon Creek plants.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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