Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

ML treatment plant not affected by winter or spring runoff


It was business as usual for the Medical Lake’s Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Facility.

Built in 2000, the facility collects waste and water from the Medical Lake, Lakeland Village and Eastern State Hospital.

The plant filters suspended solids, biodegradable organics, pathogenic bacteria, nutrients from the wastewater and purifies the water before sending it back into the environment.

A portion of the discharge is treated to Class A-plus reclaimed water standards — drinking water quality — and pumped back into West Medical Lake. The remaining effluent is discharged into the Deep Creek tributary where it meets state standards for Class A surface waters.

Plant Manager Steven Cooper said there were some increases in the storm water from the winter, but not as much as they have seen in the past.

“It was actually a fairly dry winter for us,” Cooper said. “Probably one of the dryer ones we’ve had. We really didn’t have any effects from it.”

Cooper added that the plant was not affected from the spring runoff, even with a few days of high runoff.

“It didn’t affect the plant’s operation,” Cooper said. “The plant could handle a lot more.”

Cooper added that the city maintenance’s collection system helps with inflow, the reduced water that doesn’t go into the plant has reduced run off.

Cooper and the plant workers have fine-tuned the process over the years to put out clean water at a lower cost. He added that because Medical Lake has no industry, the waste that comes from the city and the state hospitals is domestic, like waste that comes from households.

“The waste is consistent, which has helped the plant with the operation,” Cooper said.

Ellie Key of the Department of Ecology said the quality of the water is much higher than it used to be.

Key said Medical Lake’s wastewater treatment plant is one of the state facilities that doesn’t have any violations or issues. The facility has received three-consecutive Wastewater Treatment Plant Awards from the DOE.

“Cooper has done a great job with managing that plant,” Key said.

For the summer, Cooper expects the amount of bacteria in the plant system to grow due to the heat. He said he has it down to a window where they keep bacteria to a certain amount in the system. The plant is less than 50 percent capacity, which allows large a cushion to prevent increases in bacteria.

Al Stover can be reached at

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