Fort Wayne, IN — Two City Utilities’ departments, the sewage treatment plant and Geographic Information Systems , have received awards recognizing outstanding operations and innovation.
City Utilities’ sewage treatment plant has received a national award honoring the plant’s excellent record of compliance with federal and state regulations. The Gold Peak Performance Award, presented by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), honors the P.L. Brunner Water Pollution Control Plant for having no violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits in 2011.
Sewage treatment plants and many other facilities such as industries that discharge treated wastewater to a river, lake or stream have NPDES permits issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The permits specify the amount of various compounds found in treated wastewater that the facility may discharge without degrading water quality in the stream that receives the effluent. Tests for these compounds may be required daily, weekly or monthly. In 2011, the Water Pollution Control Plant treated just under seventeen billion gallons of sewage and was required to test 20 different parameters. In no case did the tests show a violation of the plant’s permit.
“This award is an acknowledgement of City Utilities’ on-going commitment to regulatory compliance, to protecting the environment and to working with state and federal agencies to ensure best practices,” said Kumar Menon, Director of City Utilities. “As a leading water and sewer provider, City Utilities is proud to have employees with almost 4000 years of combined experience working to make sure we continue to provide responsible, responsive and affordable services.”
A number of changes at City Utilities’ sewage treatment plant made winning the award in 2011 a challenge. The plant received a new, more stringent permit from IDEM in March of 2011 that lowered the limits for some chemicals in wastewater effluent and implemented new requirements. In addition, occasional high river levels and localized flooding affected plant operations. While the plant never flooded, high river levels, and other weather related problems, often lead to challenging circumstances. Plant employees monitored weather conditions, anticipated challenges and pro-actively made the needed adjustments to ensure that no violations occurred.
“It is teamwork by our employees that leads to this type of award. Everyone is committed to doing what’s right and protecting the environment,” said Plant Superintendent Brian Robinson. “Running the plant is complex and we have to be fully operational 24 hours a day no matter the weather. That means having employees in maintenance, industrial pretreatment, administration, the laboratory and operations and having everyone working toward the same goal.”
City Utilities’ plant is the only one in Indiana to receive the Gold level award for 2011.
Mapping Team Recognized for Excellence
Fort Wayne City Utilities Geographic Information Systems Department has also been honored with an award from a professional organization.
The Indiana Geographic Information Council’s Excellence in GIS Award for large communities has been presented for work the department has done to develop a system to keep track of facilities installed to improve river water quality.
Last year, the GIS department developed a process for tracking and coordinating cleaning schedules for facilities that are installed to remove pollutants, especially sediment, from stormwater runoff before it reaches a river, stream or pond.
Developers of commercial or industrial projects are required to install these water quality facilities as part of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for their development.