The Fire Chief project: The power of a plant tour

The York (Maine) Sewer District gets big mileage from a plant tour for a group of community leaders.

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A plant tour for members of a Village Study Committee paid off handsomely for the York (Maine) Sewer District.

Tim Haskell, plant superintendent, reports that the York Village Study Committee, charged with conducting public hearings and giving guidance to the Board of Selectmen on a vision for the York Village Square, took a tour recently. Committee members include the town planner, public works director, police department representatives and other town officials.

“It was a great opportunity, since no one on the committee had ever seen the plant, including the planner and public works director,” says Haskell. “It gave us an opportunity to highlight FOG and rag issues.” The committee chairman, Ron McAllister, is also an occasional columnist for the local newspaper and wrote about the tour in an article published at the news website Seacoast Online, offering news from several area papers.

McAllister reported details about the facility and included quotes from operators involved in the tour – illustrating the value of having the people who know the processes best talk to visitors about them.

“You might expect the place to smell bad but it doesn’t.,” McAllister wrote. “There is a slight hydrogen sulfide odor in the headworks, but that's about it. Outside, there is no smell. ‘If the plant is working right, there should be no odor,’ said Mike Tibbetts, YSD director of operations.”

The article concluded, “The best way to lower your YSD bill is to use less water. You also can help the YSD lower its processing costs by not flushing anything down the toilet that is not truly disposable. Keep it out of sight if you like, but do keep it in mind.”

An optimally effective plant tour program helps further the dual aims of the Fire Chief Project:

• Raise clean-water operators to the status of the fire chief.
• Make kids grow up wanting to be clean-water operators.

You can read McAllister’s complete report on his plant tour at Seacoast Online.


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