The Name Game: Treatment Plant or Resource Recovery Facility?

The power of words is undeniable. So are we ready for a name change?

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Are you a wastewater treatment plant operator? Or would you prefer “resource recovery specialist?” Do you work at a wastewater treatment plant? Or has your city or town made the progressive shift to “resource recovery center?”

It might sound like a name game or a not-so-subtle political tool, but the power of words and how we use those descriptions is undeniable. And in this era where heated discussions on climate change, carbon footprints, green energy and carbon emission reductions abound, those words have even more importance.

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been running a column on that lists new projects and upgrades in the water and wastewater industry (check out the December listing here). As you can imagine, most of the news stories I dig through talk about how each plant improvement or new treatment plant will “reduce energy costs,” “harness untapped energy,” and “recover resources.” It’s all about savings, nutrient reduction, making our world a little cleaner, making it a little better for the generations after us. Creating less and conserving more.

It’s an exciting era, and wastewater treatment is standing right in the middle of the policy changes this nation is undergoing.

Testament to that fact is a story out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. There, officials recently announced a change of name for the city’s wastewater treatment facility. The plant is now officially known as the Water Resources Recovery Facility.

“Words are powerful,” said Mayor George Heartwell in a statement. “The new name recognizes Grand Rapids as a leader in preserving the environment.”

What do you think? Drop me a note and let me know if your town or city is considering a name change. Or, leave a comment here. I’d love to hear from you. 


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