Sludge, scum and grit take toll on Sitka’s aging wastewater facility

Mar 21, 2019

In the Disney classic “Finding Nemo,” a clownfish escapes the clutches of a dangerous child by flinging itself into a sink. Washed down the drain, his aquarium buddies wave goodbye, but they’re not worried. All drains lead to the ocean, after all, right?

Well, in Sitka that’s true. But first they lead to the wastewater treatment plant.

“So that’s your raw wastewater. And this is what I would call a low-flow time of day,” said Shilo Williams, environmental superintendent for the City and Borough of Sitka, as she strolled through Sitka’s wastewater treatment plant.

The plant is a huge building on Japonski Island, and it houses some of the biggest infrastructure in Sitka. Williams and her team deal with the three key stages of waste: sludge, scum and grit. Oh, and all of the detritus they capture that Sitkans shouldn’t flush.

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