As we begin a new year it is always helpful to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going, and what steps we can take along the way to get there. Our utility is constantly evaluating and planning how to best serve our customers. You can help us, too.
As a new commissioner, I have been so pleased to meet the staff and work with the utility leadership this past year. They amazingly tackled the Covid crisis, and as essential workers, continued seamlessly providing water and sewer service while protecting staff and the public. Our utility workers don’t often get remembered along with nurses and grocery clerks as essential, but need to be recognized for their sacrifice and contribution to our lives during this crisis. Please thank a utility worker!
Besides managing a crisis, we were able to continue normal operations. We are updating our water meters to be read automatically and we’ve upgraded our UV disinfection at our treatment plants. We also had legal challenges, where through judicial decision we became the first local government (special utility district) to be allowed to be taxed by another government (City of Federal Way).
The water and sewer industry all over the country is experiencing challenges: aging infrastructure, tightening regulations, and an aging workforce. Our treatment plants are over 30 years old, and are in need of expansion to meet the needs of the population over the next 30 years and to meet tightening discharge regulations. The Commissioners and utility leadership have had the foresight to plan for these future needs that are coming at us sooner than expected.
Every day our staff takes the steps to continue to provide clean water and reliable sewer service. But you can help us, too. Please only put the three P’s down the drain: pee, poop and paper. Please, no fats, oils, grease, medications, harsh chemicals, paint, solvents, wipes, personal hygiene products, excess food waste or hair. If you put these down the drain, we have to take it out. Please also keep extra water out of the drains by limiting showers, not piping rainwater into the sewer system, and keeping your side sewer maintained and free from tree roots. You can also help by encouraging jobs seekers to consider our industry. We’d love to talk to school groups and colleges and can provide educational materials and tours. Our industry is very STEM and environmentally engaging, and has great benefits and opportunities for advancement.