The Fire Chief Project: The Amazing Power of a Wastewater Plant Tour

So how do you turn a wastewater skeptic into a proponent? Give a plant tour.

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Not everyone is a champion of municipal wastewater treatment. Many in your city don’t think twice about what happens when they flush the toilet or take a shower. Some in your city might only think about your plant if it stops working. And some skeptics might even assume the effluent from your plant is “nasty sewage pouring into the rivers.”

Such was the case for contributing writer Dennis Turner at the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. Turner recently wrote a piece about how his initial skepticism in wastewater treatment was resolved, thanks to some help from Tom Demspey, a research and control specialist at the Dayton Wastewater Treatment Plant.

And all Dempsey did was agree to give a plant tour.

Turner starts off his article by explaining that before taking the tour, he had many assumptions about wastewater. Get out your checklist, because you’ve probably heard most of these before: Turner assumed the plant would smell something awful, and he assumed that water coming out of local culvert was sewage.

“My knee-jerk environmental reaction was to assume that nasty sewage was pouring into our rivers. I was determined to ascertain whether this was the case,” Turner writes.

Now first of all, both men should be applauded. Turner, a concerned citizen, sought facts and explanation to either back or dispel his assumptions. Dempsey, on the other hand, took the time to educate and provide those answers.

And what happened?

Turner was able to then educate others about the role of a wastewater treatment plant. He turned his questions into public answers, ending the article by rallying other concerned citizens to take the same tour.

“You will not be disappointed,” he says.

As part of The Fire Chief project at TPO magazine, we believe in elevating the status of wastewater operators within their communities. By professionally offering a personal tour of his wastewater facility, Dempsey did just that.

To read more about Turner’s experience and reaction to the tour, click here.


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