DEP Secretary Presents 2013 Plant Excellence Awards to Water Facility Operators in Southeast Florida

On February 26, 2014, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. presented the 2013 Plant Operations Excellence Awards to Southeast Florida wastewater and drinking water facilities at the annual “Focus On Change” Seminar today in Tamarac.

“One of DEP’s top priorities is getting Florida’s water right, in terms of both quality and quantity, while ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of water for the future. You, the utility owners and operators, are our front-line partners in this critical undertaking,” Secretary Vinyard told approximately 225 seminar participants. “Today’s Plant Excellence Award recipients are prime examples of your hard work and dedication, and represent the best water treatment and conservation solutions the state has to offer.”

The 2013 Southeast Florida Wastewater Treatment Facility winner recognized today was:

  • Palm Beach County Southern Region Water Reclamation Facility

The 2013 Southeast Florida Drinking Water Facility winner recognized today were:

  • Town of Jupiter Water Utilities Treatment Facility

Each year, the Department presents awards to domestic wastewater and drinking water facilities around the state that demonstrate excellence in operation, maintenance, innovative treatment, waste reduction, pollution prevention, recycling or other special achievements. These awards are presented to recognize facilities that demonstrate a special commitment to excellence in management through dedicated professionalism.

The Department is awarding a total of 22 facilities, including nine domestic wastewater facilities as well as 13 drinking water facilities statewide. The other awards are being presented at district ceremonies during the additional five “Focus On Change” annual seminars in Panama City, Lake City, Punta Gorda, Haines City and Ocala.

Facilities go through a rigorous judging process, with every aspect of their operation scrutinized. The facility must maintain an impeccable history of recordkeeping compliance. Facility activities, such as malfunctions, maintenance or upgrades must all be documented and demonstrable to Department environmental specialists during unannounced inspection visits throughout the year. Facility upkeep is paramount, as well as making sure facility personnel have all of the proper, up-to-date certifications and training on the latest water monitoring rules and techniques.

Wastewater facilities have the opportunity to provide evidence of innovative solutions to water conservation problems, suggest improvements to the maintenance process, or highlight unique areas in which they may excel.

Drinking water facilities are required to have a spotless record of monthly bacteriological reports, having at no point breached upper limits of any potential contaminants. In addition, each facility must keep constant record of the number of days and length of hours spent at the facility. Drinking water plants are also afforded the opportunity to display areas of expertise and innovation, such as alternating flow patterns to allow storage tanks to be cleaned and inspected more frequently.

This is the 24th year that the Florida Rural Water Association (FRWA) has presented the “Focus on Change” Seminar in conjunction with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The sessions are designed to provide the most current regulatory information available to utilities.

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