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State of Vermont Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants and Operators Recognized for Excellence

Release Date: 01/23/2012
Contact Information: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

(Boston—January 23, 2012) The State of Vermont Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants and Operators were recently selected by EPA for a 2011 Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Excellence Award.  The EPA Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Excellence Award was established to recognize and honor the employees of publicly owned wastewater treatment plants for their commitment to improving water quality with outstanding plant operations and maintenance.   More often than not, and particularly with the smaller facilities, conscientious operators and staff continue to perform exceptionally with limited resources.

Hurricane Irene inflicted widespread damage to public infrastructure this past August.   Flood waters inundated and overwhelmed many wastewater treatment facilities and collection systems.  The personnel of these municipal wastewater treatment plants did a remarkable job to protect their facilities and to help restore most of the essential infrastructure as soon as possible to minimize adverse water quality impacts and to protect public health.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) was instrumental in this group nomination.   According to Jeff Fehrs, an inspector and engineer with the VTDEC,  “Vermont operators, along with other municipal staff who assisted, did a herculean job of repairing their wastewater treatment plants and collection systems, as well as restoring treatment after Hurricane Irene which caused extensive flooding and damage primarily in the central and southern parts of the state. The operators are some of the unsung heroes of Hurricane Irene.  I have heard multiple stories of operators working 36 plus hours straight, not knowing what day it is anymore, and sleeping in their vehicles.  Through their dedication, resourcefulness, and hard work, they were able to provide at least primary treatment (if not secondary treatment) within a day and managed to bandaged their collection systems within a couple of days in most cases.  It is my hope that they somehow receive the recognition they deserve.”

“The professionals operating these wastewater treatment plants, as well as the municipalities and the state environmental agencies that support them, are essential to keeping our environment healthy by protecting water quality. They are devoted, often underappreciated, and demonstrate a high level of commitment under extreme situations.  I am proud to give them the credit they deserve,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.                                                           

The Green Mountain Water Environment Association (GMWEA) will accept this award on behalf of many of its members on January 25th at the annual New England Water Environment Association Conference in Boston.  In addition, this award will be re-presented at the upcoming GMWEA Annual Spring Conference this May in Killington.   

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