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NARRATIVE: Tacoma Environmental Services is committed to its mission of providing sustainable and 
cost effective management services to protect the environment, recover value from Tacoma’s waste 
streams, and enhance the quality of life for the citizens and rate payers of Tacoma.  We envision 
ourselves as national leaders that operate fiscally sound utilities, reducing our environmental footprint 
for the benefit of our community and future generations.  Though we exist as three distinct utilities 
(solid waste, surface water and wastewater), we believe that a synergy is created through cross 
functional approaches that maximize our ability to be a high performing organization. 

Examples of cross functional efforts include collecting food waste from commercial establishments and 
redirecting them to the water reclamation facility to increase biogas production.  The TAGRO biosolids 
program has a robust marketing plan that not only ensures 100% recycling of all biosolids products but 
markets products like wood chips and compost produced by the solid waste utility.   The surface water 
utility has altered its standard specifications for construction projects to specify TAGRO soils and soil 
amendments, increasing awareness and use of biosolids products within the Tacoma city limits.    

Tacoma Environmental Services partners with external organizations such as the Pierce Conservation 
District’s Harvest Pierce County program and the Russell Family Foundation’s Puyallup River Initiative.  
Harvest Pierce County manages a community gardening program consisting of more than 70 community 
gardens and a variety of community food projects such as gleaning and cooperative farms.  The TAGRO 
program provides not only monetary support but donates biosolids-amended soils and soil products 
along with yard debris compost and wood chips free to all community gardens and cooperative farms.  
The surface water utility group participates in three Communities of Interest in the Puyallup River 
Initiative.  These involve creating a just and healthy food system, protecting the Puyallup River and 
protecting Commencement Bay. 

The current cross functional approach and matrix structure of Tacoma Environmental Services is part of 
the groundwork for change to create a utility of the future.  As conditions change, utilities must navigate 
a transition to a new paradigm in which sustainability and innovation become core values through the 
integration of resources.  Our utility of the future will be designed according to these key principles 
which are inherently connected to our goals and objectives – focused on achieving unprecedented levels 
of sustainability and innovation. 

Principles of Tacoma Environmental Services Utility of the Future:  Tacoma’s utility of the future 
provides wastewater treatment, surface water management, and solid waste management services in 
an integrated way that optimizes the use of resources and eliminates waste.  Key principles include the 
following: 

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Apply systems thinking and financial, social, and environmental analysis to all 
management decisions, including design, construction, operations, and maintenance. 

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Do no harm and go beyond compliance. 

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Include success measures based on environmental, climate, and other nonfinancial 
performance criteria. 

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Right-size facilities and operations for the customer base, and allow for future flexibility. 

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Leverage diverse sources of financing. 

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Engage customers as resource management partners.