LAKE CITY – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection today presented the 2014 Plant Operations Excellence Award to a northeast Florida drinking water facility at the annual “Focus On Change” Seminar. The drinking water facility award recipient was the city of Palm Coast Water System.
“Drinking water and wastewater plant operators hold critical, important and consequential positions that year after year earn our trust and confidence,” said DEP’s Northeast District Assistant Director Jim Maher. “These dedicated professionals bring excellence, innovation and reliability to systems that affect the well being of us all, shelter the public and the environment from risk, and care for a most basic foundation of our lives, and they deserve our praise and appreciation. It is therefore my great pleasure to recognize one of the very best in a field of outstanding professionals.”
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 Haines City, Punta Gorda, Tamarac, Panama 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 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.
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.