News: JBLM breaks ground on a new water treatment facility
Story by Sgt. James Bunn
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 16 to mark the official start of construction on a new wastewater treatment plant on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The $91 million water treatment plant will serve JBLM, Washington State National Guard Camp Murray and the American Lake Veterans Center.
Once complete, the facility will improve water quality, substantially reduce nitrogen discharges into Puget Sound and reduce the on-base potable water consumption by at least 2 percent per year, said Col. Bruce Estok, commander, Seattle District Corps of Engineers.
The South Sound is very susceptible to environmental damage caused by pollution, said Dennis McLerran, the region’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Building a new wastewater treatment plant is necessary to protect and preserve the Puget Sound as a whole.
A 2009 environmental assessment of the existing Solo Point plant, built in 1955 and upgraded in 1974, indicates a high probability of system failure within the next five to seven years.
According to the assessment, the facility is quickly reaching its maximum capacity for treatment of wastewater and upgrades are needed to improve the water quality, achieve sustainability goals and support the potential population increases at JBLM.
“Puget Sound restoration is a regional and a national priority,” said Estok. “This project makes a long awaited contribution to the Puget Sound’s health and water quality. Here, we are going to leap forward from1950s technology to current, state-of-the-art technology that meets stringent water quality standards.”
The installation is moving toward a more sustainable future with programs, such as Net Zero, which encourages environmentally sustainable practices that save money, protect training lands, and enhance air and water quality.
“This is a sound investment in sustainability,” said McLerran. “This is a project that shows how the base can grow in the future while protecting the Puget Sound. The upgraded plant will help to decrease various toxic pollutants.”