The Water Environment Federation, a national nonprofit representing water quality professionals and organizations, honored Clackamas Water Environment Services with a prestigious 2021 Water Heroes Award to recognize WES’ response to the destructive and historic February 2021 ice storm.
WES was one of only four agencies nationwide to receive this year’s Water Heroes Award, recognizing organizations that perform duties “above and beyond the usual call of duty during an emergency situation to protect the public and the environment.”
The storm wreaked widespread havoc across the county and region, including power outages that affected hundreds of thousands of Oregonians and lasted two weeks or longer in some areas.
From February 12 through the 23rd, WES staff overcame constant power outages, dangerous conditions and other obstacles to preserve and maintain wastewater treatment services for nearly 200,000 customers in northern Clackamas County.
“Some WES staff members even slept on-site to make sure our equipment kept working through the night,” said WES Director Greg Geist, who accepted the award at the WEF conference on Oct. 19. “Our crew members worked around the clock to keep the facilities and pump stations running. It was a truly inspiring team effort.”
During nearly two weeks of weather-related challenges, WES crews responded to more than 1,000 alarms, while its five wastewater treatment facilities experienced power loss and 10 major pump stations operated on standby power.
Despite these obstacles, there were no sanitary sewer overflows within the WES service area, which includes the cities of Gladstone, Johnson City, Happy Valley, Milwaukie, Oregon City, West Linn and unincorporated areas.
There were also no sewage bypasses, no violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, and no missed compliance samples, officials said.
Throughout the storm, WES provided status updates for state regulators, local public officials, customers, stakeholders, and media.
Clackamas Water Environment Services produces clean water and protects water quality for more than 190,000 people living and working in Clackamas County.
It operates and maintains five wastewater treatment facilities, 23 pumping stations and more than 370 miles of pipes, and cleans more than 7 billion gallons of wastewater each year.
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