Employee garden blocks smell at wastewater plant

KING 5's Alison Morrow reports.

RENTON -- A wastewater treatment plant is filled with hard workers you can’t see - billions of microorganisms the eye can’t spot but the nose can.

“It has a little bit of a fresh farm funkiness to it,” Chris Tinnin laughed.

Tinnin is a supervisor at King County’s Wastewater Plant in Renton. While the invisible employees broke down sewage Thursday, visible workers broke down the smell. DIRT Corps built an employee garden.

A keynote feature will be a fragrance wall, soon to be covered with plants.

“A lot of them tend to produce fruits when they bloom and those fruits have odor attached to it,” Jaen Gomez-Cerpantes explained.

Nearly the entire garden is a product of the wastewater plant. The soil is composted bio-solid. Much of the cement comes from old pipes. Reclaimed water will hydrate it all.

Growing a new future – not just for employee experience.

Itzan Santiago moved from Mexico a decade ago. It was hard to find a job but DIRT Corps gave her a love for dirt, offering training and work for under-served communities.

Now, Santiago hopes to start her own company.

“So, I like it. I’m very happy for this program,” she said.

Happy like Tinnin, ready to breathe a little easier.

“You might not reflect this to your job, but if it gives you just a little bit of peace in your life for a moment, how can that be bad?” he said.

Copyright 2016 KING


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