Clean bill of health: Brightwater begins operations

Visitors at the new Brightwater Clean-Water Treatment Facility learn about the treatment process in the Exhibit Hall during the grand opening on Sept. 24. - ERIC ALLAN, Special to the Reporter
Visitors at the new Brightwater Clean-Water Treatment Facility learn about the treatment process in the Exhibit Hall during the grand opening on Sept. 24.
— image credit: ERIC ALLAN, Special to the Reporter

Regional leaders' vision and courage were two of the vital qualities that kept things on course, King County Executive Dow Constantine said of completing construction of the Brightwater Treatment Plant.

“Brightwater is our largest clean-water investment in nearly 50 years. We began Brightwater in the mid 1990s as essential infrastructure that would be the foundation for economic development in the 21st century,” Constantine added.

Local dignitaries and community members joined Constantine to celebrate a regional investment in clean water with the start of Brightwater Treatment Plant operations Sept. 24.

The plant is located in Woodinville and features a pump station in Bothell.

Construction began in 2006 and the plant began treating wastewater in September 2011. Until the conveyance tunnel begins operating in 2012, treated wastewater from Brightwater will be piped to King County’s West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle or South Treatment Plant in Renton.

The total project cost is $1.8 billion, a 3.3 percent increase over the $1.789 billion baseline cost estimate established when the project was at 30 percent design in 2004.

“Wastewater treatment and clean water are critical for our region’s health and prosperity,” said Constantine. “Brightwater created thousands of jobs during construction, and will provide the needed infrastructure to support economic growth and business investment for generations to come."

The new facility includes an education and community center with public meeting space, restored wildlife habitat and 70 acres of publicly accessible open space and trails developed to mitigate the community and environmental impacts associated with the construction and operation of the facilities.

Brightwater also features $4.3 million in public art that was installed under the 1% for Art Program, which requires 1 percent of applicable project costs to be invested in public art. At Brightwater, art was carefully selected to enhance facilities and to educate people about the utility’s clean-water mission.

One of Brightwater’s most significant features is the advanced treatment technology that will produce an effluent 70 percent cleaner than conventional wastewater technologies. Brightwater will incorporate GE’s ZeeWeed technology, the company’s most advanced membrane water treatment solution, which employs hollow-fiber membranes as a pressure-driven barrier to separate suspended solids and biological pathogens from water.

“GE continually seeks ways to enhance our support of customers in the global water treatment industry. Brightwater is a great example of a municipality seeking technology that will allow them to protect natural resources like the Puget Sound, while meeting government regulations," said Paul J. Schuler, regional vice president, municipal, of GE’s water and process technologies business.

The advanced treatment technology will also enable the plant to become a significant source of high-quality reclaimed water for non-drinking uses such as irrigation and industrial processes. King County hopes that making reclaimed water available around the plant will significantly reduce the amount of water being taken from the Sammamish River for irrigation.

In addition to the treatment plant, designed to treat and average of 36 million gallons of wastewater a day, the Brightwater system also includes a 13-mile conveyance pipeline and a 600-foot-deep outfall in Puget Sound a mile off Point Wells. Plans were approved to include reclaimed water distribution pipelines in the same tunnels being built for Brightwater.

Brightwater will serve an estimated 189,000 people in north King and south Snohomish counties, and about 70 percent of the wastewater treated at Brightwater will come from Snohomish County. Wastewater from this area is now treated at South Plant in Renton or at West Point in Seattle.



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