Golden Plunger

Winning the state’s Golden Plunger Award for a 10th straight year brought together those who make good operations happen at the Lynden wastewater treatment plant: from left, public works director Steve Banham, operator Bob Merrill, plant superintendent Mike Kim, operator Kyle Struiksma, electrician Robert Patrick, retired superintendent Tami Adams, operator Josh Libolt, operator Alysha Earl, electrician Tom Yonkman and Mayor Scott Korthuis. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

For wastewater excellence: Golden Plunger Award 

LYNDEN ­— Operation of the city wastewater treatment plant has now won an Outstanding Performance Award from the state Department of Ecology for 10 years in a row.

Lynden is one of three recipients of the facetiously named Golden Plunger Award in Whatcom County in 2018 and 110 across the state. The other locals are the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District and Seattle City Light for its Newhalem and Diablo operations.

Wastewater treatment plant operators play a critical role in keeping Washington’s waters clean. Treatment plants deal with everything we dump down the drain or flush down the toilet.

Despite all of the potential hurdles these facilities and their operators face, Lynden and 109 others kept up their top-performing status.

“Wastewater treatment plant operators are local heroes. They are protecting water quality every day,” said Polly Zehm, Ecology’s deputy director. 

Ecology evaluated more than 300 plants operating in Washington to determine if they were meeting their state pollution limits and permit requirements, which include monitoring, reporting, spill prevention planning, pretreatment and operational demands.

Treatment plants can apply for state funding to help upgrade and improve their systems. Also, technical assistance is offered.