Stormwater team earning high marks

Before and after photos of a pond near Nelson Elementary School. Miller and McHattie rented an excavator and cleared the pond of cattails.

As our abnormally dry summer gives way to another typically rainy autumn, two Bethel workers are spending their days making sure all that extra stormwater isn’t running amok outside of our schools and buildings.

Dan Miller and Bill McHattie don’t have a lot of spare time these days. Officially, the men are grounds maintenance workers, but their jobs go much further than that.

They inspect and clear catch basins, measure sediment loads, and repair ponds and rain gardens at 34 sites around the district.

“It’s kind of a unique job. It’s classified as a grounds job, but it’s really more of a technical job,” Miller said. “Understanding the hydraulics of water, looking at flow charts, diagrams of how things are supposed to be built — that has an appeal to me, not to mention the challenge of trying to remediate a site or a rain garden.”

Their hard work recently paid off when their sites once again passed Pierce County inspections.

“We’ve actually kind of set an example for other school districts,” Miller said. “Some of the other districts will use people that have a focus on doing some schools, and then some stormwater. We have two full-time employees dedicated to stormwater.”

Miller says Pierce County inspection teams generally come to the district once a year.

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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