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New Spokane wastewater treatment system named in honor of man who helped build it

UPDATED: Wed., June 16, 2021

Mike Taylor talked about the Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility during a tour in 2018. Taylor died a year later. This week the city of Spokane named its new water filtration system in his memory.  (KATHY PLONKA/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Mike Taylor talked about the Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility during a tour in 2018. Taylor died a year later. This week the city of Spokane named its new water filtration system in his memory. (KATHY PLONKA/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

It’s not a grandiose mountain, a bustling avenue or a downtown skyscraper.

Actually, it’s nestled in the northwest corner of the city and will filter about 50 million gallons of wastewater every day.

To anyone else, having their name bestowed upon a wastewater treatment plant might not feel like an honor.

But to the wife of the late Mike Taylor, who oversaw the design of the city of Spokane’s “next level of treatment” system before he died in 2019, it’s a perfect tribute.

The new filtration system – known as the Tertiary Treatment Facility or next level of treatment – was formally renamed the “Taylor Tertiary Treatment Facility,” via a resolution unanimously passed by the Spokane City Council on Monday.

A sign bearing Taylor’s name will be placed outside the facility.

“Mike would have been thrilled, and I think you’re right, he’s in heaven redoing the entire system up there,” Linda Taylor joked at the City Council meeting. “

The new system is the first major upgrade to the city’s Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility since the 1970s. Scheduled for completion this year, the system removes harmful heavy metals, PCBs and phosphorus that would otherwise be discharged into the Spokane River.

Taylor started his own company, Taylor Engineering, in 1985 and eventually joined the city of Spokane in 2009 as engineering services director in 2009.

Former Mayor David Condon assigned Taylor in 2013 to oversee the $126 million upgrades to the water reclamation facility. In that role, he was instrumental in the city’s efforts to clean up the Spokane River.

Flags at City Hall were flown at half-staff following Taylor’s death at 75.

He was a favorite among city staff and elected officials.

Councilwoman Karen Stratton recalled having a particularly bad day when, during a committee meeting, Taylor sent her a text message from across the room.

“I looked down and on my phone it just said ‘the day will get better, hang in there,’” Stratton recalled. “I never forgot that, because he just sensed that I needed somebody to say that it was all going to be OK.”

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