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Caribou, Maine Wastewater Treatment Plant Recognized for Excellence by EPA

Release Date: 01/31/2005
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Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: January 31, 2005; Release # sr050110

BOSTON – The Caribou, Maine Utilities District was recently selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a New England Regional Operations and Maintenance Wastewater Excellence Award in the medium secondary plant category. The staff of the facility was recognized by EPA's New England Office for their outstanding work in operating and maintaining the facility and their overall commitment to improving water quality.

The plant, which won in the medium secondary plant category, was among six facilities in New England recognized for exemplary performance in 2004. The staff and facility were recognized last week during the annual New England Water Environment Association Conference in Boston.

The Caribou Utilities District is a major facility with an excellent compliance record in recent years and has been steadily upgrading much of their treatment facilities and collection system, according to Bill Sheehan, inspector for the Maine DEP. Since Alan Hitchcock became General Manager of the district, he has worked tirelessly to steadily improve operations and maintenance, Sheehan said. Despite losing a significant major industrial contributor that went bankrupt, Hitchcock has kept the district on steady financial footing and has been able to fund two rounds of overdue plant upgrades - an aeration system and major pump stations.

Chief Operator Paul Rossignol and Hitchcock regularly host training sessions for area operators and work cooperatively with other facilities to address problems. For example, a large septage disposal facility in the area was facing closure and though this was not directly a problem for the Caribou district, they worked cooperatively with community officials to help develop a regional solution to this problem. The Caribou Utilities District also helped the Maine DEP with studies of the Aroostook River and volunteered to help the Maine DEP with a lagoon study. Furthermore, Rossignol’s laboratory and record keeping are among the best in the state, according to DEP officials.

“The professionals operating this wastewater treatment plants play a crucial role ensuring that our lakes and rivers are protected from unnecessary pollution,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “The individuals who run these plants, and the municipalities that support them, are key to keeping our environment healthy. I am proud to give them the credit they deserve.”

The EPA Regional Operations and Maintenance Excellence Award was established to recognize staffs of publicly owned wastewater treatment plants for their commitment to improving water quality not only with outstanding operation and maintenance, but also through a combination of continued permit compliance, effective financial management, and on-going operator training. often, conscientious operators and staff perform exceptionally with limited resources.

The Caribou plant will have the opportunity to be nominated for a national EPA 2005 National Operation and Maintenance Excellence Award this coming spring.
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