DEP Presents 2014 Plant Excellence Awards to Southwest Florida Water Facility Operators


HAINES CITY – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection today presented the 2014 Plant Operations Excellence Awards to four southwest Florida drinking water and domestic wastewater facilities at the annual “Focus On Change” Seminar. Drinking water facility award recipients included Tampa Bay Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant and the Plant City Water System. The wastewater facility recipients were the city of Dunedin Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Point O’ Woods Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“It is only through the continued dedication of our wastewater and drinking water facilities that Florida can stay on the forefront of water conservation and treatment,” said DEP Division of Water Resource Management Director Mark Thomasson. ”It is imperative that we recognize our outstanding facilities that promote higher standards within the regulated community through innovation and continuous improvement.”

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 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 10 domestic wastewater facilities as well as 12 drinking water facilities statewide. The other awards are being presented at district ceremonies during the additional five “Focus On Change” annual seminars in Ocala, Punta Gorda, Tamarac, Panama City and Lake City.

Facilities go through a rigorous judging process, with every aspect of their operation scrutinized. The facility must maintain an impeccable history of record-keeping compliance. Facility activities, such as malfunctions, maintenance or upgrades must all be documented and demonstrable to the department 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 an exemplary history of compliance with microbiological and chemical contaminant standards. In addition, each facility must keep constant record of the number of days and length of hours the operators work 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 25th year that the Florida Rural Water Association has presented the “Focus on Change” Seminar in conjunction with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The sessions are designed to provide the most current regulatory information available to utilities in order to improve compliance.

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