The Fire Chief Project: Would you like to see an article like this in your local paper?

Albert Lea clean-water plant gets full-page treatment in its local newspaper

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One of the pictures says it all: Two beakers of water from the Albert Lea (Minn.) Wastewater Treatment Plant, one filled with influent, the other with effluent.

It was one of several pictures accompanying a front page feature story about the plant in the local newspaper, the Albert Lea Tribune.

“It may perhaps be one of Albert Lea’s most important resources, yet it is likely the least understood,” the article begins. “Off of Freeborn County Road 81, about four miles southeast of Albert Lea, the city’s wastewater treatment plant handles roughly 5 million gallons of wastewater capacity per day.”

The story goes on to describe the treatment process, and it includes pictures of various steps, a plant flow schematic, and a team picture of the staff.

“A wastewater treatment plant is the most misunderstood department of the city,” plant superintendent Rick Ashling says in the story. “It is the first line of defense against disease.”

Would you like front page treatment for your facility? There are ways to make it happen, but in part it’s about timing. In this case, a reporter for the newspaper heard Ashling report to the City Council about upgrades at the plant and later contacted him for a story.

The object lesson is that whenever there’s a reason to talk up your plant, you should do it, and make sure the newspaper hears you. Believe it or not, reporters are interested in the magical processes involved in turning sewage into clean water.

So, be like the fire chief and blow your horn when it’s justified. The results might be bigger and better than you imagine. They certainly were for Rick Ashling and the team at Albert Lea.

You can read the full article and see the pictures here.


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