By the 1950s and ‘60s, the slow and sensitive Tualatin River was so polluted and choked, at some sections it was possible to stand with one leg on each side. Since Clean Water Services was formed in 1970, the community’s investment in public health and the environment has paid off for the river, our region, and our customers.
On February 3, 1970, voters approved the formation of the Unified Sewerage Agency (USA) to consolidate 26 wastewater treatment facilities. The vote followed a 1969 moratorium on suburban building in Washington County due to pollution in the Tualatin River Watershed from poorly treated sewage.
Over the next three decades, the Unified Sewerage Agency evolved from a wastewater treatment utility into a water resources management utility by expanding to recovering valuable resources as well as managing stormwater and the flow of the Tualatin River. The Unified Sewerage Agency was renamed Clean Water Services in 2001 to reflect this broader role in protecting water resources.
In 2004, Clean Water Services received the nation’s first watershed-based National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Issued under the federal Clean Water Act, this watershed-based NPDES permit combines the permits for our four water resource recovery facilities and the municipal stormwater system into a single integrated permit that can be managed across facilities and the Tualatin River Watershed.
Today, the Tualatin River is healthier than it has been in generations — valued for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat. Clean Water Services is dedicated to working in partnership with others to safeguard the river’s health and vitality, ensure the economic success of our region, and protect public health for over 600,000 residents and businesses in urban Washington County.