Oct. 6, 2005
Just as thousands of people worked to clean up the waters of King County by building a regional wastewater treatment system 40 years ago, current residents can now take actions to protect and restore Puget Sound.
That was one message that King County Executive Ron Sims delivered at a 40th anniversary celebration of the county's South Treatment Plant in Renton. The plant, which began operating in 1965, cleans an average of about 100 million gallons of sewage a day. It serves people who live and work in south Snohomish County, east and south King County, and a small part of northeast Pierce County.
"Forty years ago, our parents had the wisdom to protect people's health and Lake Washington's waters by investing in this sewage plant," Sims said. "Now it is time for our generation to make new investments in protecting and restoring Puget Sound. It's an increasingly urgent regional need.
"We must turn this clean-water legacy into a campaign that galvanizes the public to see the Puget Sound recovery as important as the cleaning up of Lake Washington was 40 years ago," Sims said. "We must direct public, private and personal resources and actions toward a single unified goal of a restored and protected Puget Sound.
"Working together," Sims said, "we can develop a unified Puget Sound recovery plan that tackles those problems with real and achievable results."
Also speaking at the event were Tom Gibbs, executive director from 1967-74 of Metro, the original regional wastewater treatment agency that merged with King County in 1994; Gary Zimmerman, chair of the former Metro governing board, the Metro Council, from 1980-90; and Terri Briere, current president of the Renton City Council, representing the host city for the 40-year-old South Treatment Plant. Renton is also one of 34 cities and local sewer utilities that contract with King County to provide wastewater treatment.
"Today we are commemorating four decades of wastewater treatment – the No. 1 most effective method for eliminating water pollution and improving water quality in our region," Sims said. "Thanks to this plant and other plants, pipelines and pump stations, our regional wastewater treatment system is a model for the region and the nation in protecting public health and the environment."
"We have cleaned up Lake Washington. We have enhanced the water quality of other lakes, rivers and streams in our region. And we have cleaned up beaches along Puget Sound," Sims said. "But there is still more we can and must do to protect and restore Puget Sound – where all our water eventually flows. "
"That will require the continuing interest, energy and power of people in King County and throughout our region," he said. "I've talked about the effectiveness of our wastewater treatment facilities, but our system is more than concrete and steel. We depend on people who inspire, guide, plan, build, lead and operate our clean-water system to make sure all the gears mesh."
"I want to express my sincere appreciation to all the people who have worked to create the clean water we enjoy in King County and beyond," Sims said. "Without their efforts in planning, building and operating this wastewater treatment plant – and without their involvement in the clean-water agency that operates our treatment system, we would not – we could not – be celebrating today."
King County has scheduled a public open house from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the South Treatment Plant, 1200 Monster Road S.W. The plant is near Southwest Grady Way and Interstate 405.
Sims noted that the treatment plant has many new features that increase environmental protection and help make King County an innovative leader in waste treatment, alternative energy use, and recycling and reusing byproducts:
Sims also thanked a wide range of people and groups that have been part of the effort to build and operate the wastewater treatment system:
At the end of the event, King County invited local leaders and representatives to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the South Treatment Plant by becoming part of a commemorative photograph. When Metro celebrated its 10th anniversary, the agency similarly commemorated the event with a photo of its leadership.
The South Treatment Plant was built after residents of King County voted in 1958 to create an independent wastewater treatment agency called the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, or Metro. In 1993, voters approved the merger of Metro's wastewater and water quality functions (and its public transit function) with King County.
Updated: Oct. 6, 2005