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


PANAMA CITY – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection today presented the 2014 Plant Operations Excellence Awards to five northwest Florida drinking water and domestic wastewater facilities at the annual “Focus On Change”Seminar. Drinking water facility award recipients included the Bay County Water Treatment Plant, Destin Water Users, Inc., Naval Air Station Whiting Field and Elgin Air Force Base (Duke Field). The wastewater facility recipient was the Arbennie Pritchett Water Reclamation Facility.

“It is through the combined efforts of many hard-working individuals – such as the operators and owners of our water facilities – that we are able to ensure the protection of our water resources,” said DEP Northwest District Director Shawn Hamilton. “I am honored to present these awards on behalf of the department recognizing excellence in plant operations and environmental protection. These facilities are innovators in water treatment and conservation in Florida and they deserve our highest praise.”

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. Today’s seminar in Panama City was the final one in this year’s series. Other awards were presented at district ceremonies during the additional five “Focus On Change” annual seminars in Haines City, Punta Gorda, Tamarac, Ocala 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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