The Fire Chief Project: Two ways to reach out

A groundbreaking and an open house highlight the importance of clean water and infrastructure investment

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Two clean-water agencies on opposite sides of the country recently reached out to their publics – for the same basic purpose but at different stages of their development.

The Village of Penn Yan, N.Y., held a groundbreaking ceremony for local officials for a major treatment plant upgrade project. Meanwhile, the Dublin San Ramon Services District invited the public on another in its series of quarterly tours.

Penn Yan village officials and municipal utilities board members “all put hand to shovels” to break ground for $4.6 million of treatment plant improvements, as reported in The Chronicle Express newspaper. The upgrade for the 30-year-old facility will include a new 3,100-square-foot building, 10 new rotating biological contactors. Primary and secondary digesters will get a cleaning, improved floating covers, and upgraded auxiliary heaters. A new biosolids dewatering screw press will cut trucking costs as the village looks forward to starting a land application program.

During the ceremony last month, Ben Sward, chief plant operator, “thanked his staff for all their work keeping the plant operating,” according to the news story. Penn Yan mayor Bob Church, utilities board chairman Rom French and public works director Brent Bodine “stressed how needed the modernization and improvements are at the plant.”

The news picture showed the dignitaries with their shovels on snow-covered ground. It might have been nice to see some public involvement in the groundbreaking, but the weather did not look especially favorable.

The Dublin San Ramon district plans a tour of its regional wastewater treatment and water recycling facilities on Jan. 8, according to the Dublin Patch newspaper. The free tour lasts 60 to 90 minutes and is open to adults, teens, and children age 7 and up.

Pleasanton, and southern San Ramon generate up to 10 mgd of wastewater. The tours highlight how wastewater treatment has become “a resource recovery operation that generates recycled water to irrigate green spaces and biofuel that can generate heat and electricity,” the news report said.

The district offers public tours on the second Wednesday of January, April, July, and October. Tours can be scheduled at other times for groups of six or more, provided staff is available.

Both these events certainly help raise clean-water professionals, in the public’s eye, toward the status of the fire chief. What are you doing, or will you do, to advance The Fire Chief Project? Send your idea in an email to


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