The Water Environment Federation (WEF) honored Clackamas Water Environment Services (WES) with a prestigious 2021 Water Heroes Award to recognize WES' response to the historic February 2021 ice storm that caused widespread power outages and other damages.
WES is just one of four agencies nationwide to receive the award this year from WEF, a nonprofit organization that represents water quality professionals around the world. The award recognizes organizations that perform duties "above and beyond the usual call of duty during an emergency situation to protect the public and the environment."
From Feb. 12 - 23, 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 onsite to make sure our equipment kept working through the night," said WES Director Greg Geist, who accepted the award on behalf of staff 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 1000 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 communities in the county.
There were also no sewage bypasses, no violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and no missed compliance samples.
Throughout the storm, WES provided status updates for state regulators, local public officials, customers, stakeholders, and media.
WES operates and maintains five wastewater treatment facilities, 23 pumping stations and more than 370 miles of pipes. Each year, WES cleans more than seven billion gallons of wastewater.
Clackamas Water Environment Services produces clean water and protects water quality. It’s our job to ensure that residents and visitors enjoy the benefits of safe, healthy water for generations to come. Learn more.