The Fire Chief Project: Beyond age 80 and still a fixture on tours

The executive director of a regional authority in Mississippi preaches a “gospel” on the importance of wastewater treatment

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Bill Austin, executive director of the DeSoto County (Miss.) Regional Utility Authority still looms large during tours of the agency’s clean-water plants.

An article in the DeSoto Times Tribune newspaper labeled Austin as “the godfather of modern wastewater treatment” and described him “looking like a silver-haired squire among a group of DeSoto County high school students” while helping lead a tour of the Short Fork Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“Again on Saturday at the Earth Day event on the historic Hernando Square, Austin was in full public relations mode, preaching the gospel of clean wastewater in an earth-friendly environment,” the news story said.

“Austin had a vision more than a decade ago that for DeSoto County to accommodate an influx of new residents, commercial businesses and industry, the county had to phase out antiquated wastewater ponds and lagoons and install state-of-the-art monitoring and discharge systems to properly treat wastewater in the state's fastest growing county.”

Austin, past age 80, still gets excited talking to young people about his profession, according to the paper: “One day, they will have to carry on when we are gone,” he told a reporter. “Most of them didn't know about this at all. It’s a career option for them.” Jason Moss, project manager with Severn Trent Services, led the tour, along with Austin and the authority’s administrative assistant, Judy Marshall.

Read the full story at the Desoto Times Tribune.  


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