Nature-lover leads West Point Treatment Plant updates

Kolby Hoagland, Capital Projects Manager, Wastewater Treatment Division

When first contacted about this story Kolby Hoagland started off telling about this great place he knows in the Mt. Rainier National Park for trout fishing. He mentioned the joy of the hike and the beauty of the location. Kolby is the type of person who is made for life in this region. “If it has something to do with the outdoors, I do it,” he said. “Fishing, gardening, soccer and anything in the snow…that doesn’t involve a motor.”

It might sound surprising that someone who has a passion for the great outdoors and the natural beauty of the Northwest works in a field that deals with all kinds of waste and… well, excrement. But the project that Kolby Hoagland leads for the West Point Treatment Plant is designed to keep Puget Sound safe and clean for all its inhabitants. So maybe the contrast isn’t that far of a stretch.

One might think, however, the path that lead Kolby to this role a little sideways. After getting a BA from The Evergreen State College, Kolby got his MS in Agriculture – Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree focus on nutrient cycles and bio-energy crops. He went to work for a bioenergy firm until depressed oil prices decimated the R&D side of the alternative fuels industry. Kolby then took to the air, so to speak, landing a job in Seattle working for a wind energy company. Earth, wind, and sky work combined, it was all the project management experience that made him such a good fit for the King County Capital Project Manager role he now has.

West Point Treatment Plant upgrades

Under the emergency declaration and request for $65 million from Executive Constantine, Kolby leads a project team of King County staff, consultants, and contractors to improve power quality and reliability at West Point. The project team will plan, design, and help construct projects to stop power disruptions from causing plant bypasses of wastewater. The project includes significant coordination and cooperation with Seattle City Light, the source of West Point’s power.

On top of the emergency fund, the County will invest more than $660 million at the plant making improvements over the next 10 years, which  will replace pumps and pipes, retrofit facilities for earthquake resiliency, and upgrade the power supply.

“The system goes into a protective mode if power quality dips too low,” Kolby explains, similar to how a fuse in your house may trip if the lights flicker.  But, unlike a fuse, “This is very expensive equipment that we want to protect while we keep it operating in order to protect the public and environment of the Puget Sound and the region.”

Most of us, thankfully, don’t have to think twice about where our wastewater goes once we’ve flushed it, or it’s gone down the drain. Fortunately, there is a team of dedicated professionals committed to ensure everything flows smoothly while keeping our public waterways remain safe and clean. Having someone at the helm of this work who enjoys the region’s offerings so enthusiastically the way Kolby Hoagland does, helps to make sure nature’s gifts will remain available to us all.