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Deep Listening to the System

Susan Robb


A treatment plant tour and sound bath honor the essential workers who manage our wastewater.

In our daily lives, we engage in numerous activities related to water and wastewater without much thought. We wash, flush, and watch as rainwater disappears underground. But how often do we pause to acknowledge the dedicated workers and the engineering alchemy behind the systems that keep our communities and environment healthy? Susan Robb's Deep Listening to the System aims to shed light on King County's Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) and the remarkable individuals, whom she calls "The Magicians," working tirelessly to manage our wastewater under all conditions.

From handling extreme weather challenges and unexpected objects in sewers to tracking the prevalence of disease and responding to synchronized flushing events (i.e., halftime during the Super Bowl), these vital personnel maintain the system around the clock, every day of the year. Using their senses, hearing in particular, they develop an intimate connection with the complex infrastructure. This relationship is a blend of science and poetics, a unique combination of feeling and knowing.

To realize Deep Listening to the System, Robb invites the public to peek behind the curtain and experience the wonderous world of wastewater treatment firsthand with a special tour of the Brightwater Treatment Plant—and that’s just the beginning. After the tour, participants will be offered a sound bath by Scott Francis, co-owner of Mind Body Hum—a carefully crafted symphonic journey designed to resonate with the frequency of gratitude and elevate sensory awareness. This multi-layered auditory dive, enriched with aquatic and other environmental samples, will become a conduit for relaxation, introspection, and rejuvenation.

Following the sound bath, a hosted reception will create space for sharing newfound insights, and for those who crave more exploration, a self-guided stroll along the three miles of walking trails that wind through Brightwater's native plant landscapes, restored wetlands, and mature forested areas awaits.

Event Details

Deep Listening to the System

Saturday, September 23, 2023 Session 1: 10:00 am–1:30 pm Session 2: 12:00–3:30 pm Session 3: 2:00–5:30 pm

Location: Brightwater Treatment Plant and Environmental Education and Community Center 22505 WA-9, Woodinville, WA 98072

Session Capacity: each free session can accommodate 25 participants, ages 14+ only

Accessibility: some stairs are involved in the facility tour (a video tour will also be made available.) However, the sound bath site is fully accessible.

Transportation: free bus transportation to and from Brightwater will be provided for Group 2 only. If you have your own transportation to Brightwater, please sign up for the morning or late afternoon tour. Pick up is at 7153 Martin Luther King Jr Way S in the Safeway/Bank of America parking lot across from Othello Lightrail Station. A 4Culture representative will be on hand to greet you before boarding. The bus leaves promptly at 11:00 am and arrives at Brightwater at 11:45 am. It returns from Brightwater at 3:30 pm arriving at 7153 Martin Luther King Jr Way S by 5:15 pm.


Deep Listening to the System responds to “The Magicians” theme devised by Sans façon in their art plan for WTD’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system.
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About the Location


Science, art, design, and ecology come together at Brightwater, one of the largest wastewater treatment facilities in the world. Located north of Woodinville, WA, Brightwater comprises a park, a community gathering space, an exhibition hall, and a scientific learning laboratory in addition to the structures that house technical operations. Throughout the site, integrated and portable…

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