Plant Pride

Treatment plant staff members in Greeley, Colo., are proud of the impression they make on young environmentalists.
Plant Pride

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Making an impression on the youth in Greeley, Colo., has been easy for industrial pretreatment specialist Eddie Treviño.

"I told my five-year-old granddaughter that when she goes to the bathroom and flushes, that comes to my job to get cleaned up, so only clean water goes into the river," he says. "So after she goes to the bathroom, she'll tell me, 'Grandpa, I just sent a sample. Will you call the plant and tell them it's on the way?'"

Greeley's 14.7 mgd (design) Water Pollution Control Facility serves about 97,000 people. The wastewater treatment division leads a number of public education efforts. Plant staff members use a mixed bag of methods to convey the importance of clean water to the public.

"This education and outreach effort is conducted by plant employees, who take a lot of pride in working with students, government officials, retirees and community leaders," says division manager Tom Dingeman. "We inform them of the innovative projects that are ongoing at the local wastewater treatment facility, help them understand the importance of clean water, and show them what we are doing to be good environmental stewards for the entire community."

Water monitoring

Treviño and other plant staff members take part in World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD), an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness of protecting water resources.

"We provide lab kits to the Poudre Learning Center (PLC), which is designed for students and teachers to get educated on the environment," says Treviño. PLC is funded by several school districts, including Greeley School District 6.

Treviño and Bob Alexander, another pretreatment specialist, run tests with the kids to check for temperature, pH, total dissolved oxygen and turbidity.

In the process, kids learn about clean water and the digital aspect of collecting information. "They have started compiling the data every year," says Treviño. "They upload the data to the national WWMD website. We encourage the kids to get involved because it gives them an opportunity to see what happens in their own local community, and also at the state, national and international levels."

Water wise

Plant staff members are also involved in various water festivals and local career fairs, and in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) competition, a Water Environment Federation youth award program for water-related science projects created by high school students.

"For almost 10 years, a team of plant personnel here at Greeley has been judging at the state annual science and engineering fair leading up to the SJWP," says Dingeman. "We select the nominee who will represent Colorado at the national competition."

Plant tours and large-group conferences are ways for plant staff to discuss career opportunities with students. "This is a tremendous field where a student virtually can go anywhere and find a job," explains Dingeman.

"There's always going to be a need for wastewater treatment professionals, especially when it is predicted that 40 percent of the water/wastewater workforce is set to retire within the next 10 years. We have a passion to get the word out there and make it known to the younger generation that this is a good field to pursue."

Wastewater for the soul

Providing public education outlets for students and adults in Greeley gives the operations staff a sense of pride. "Our staff members appreciate the responsibility we have been entrusted with — to be service-oriented professionals and environmental stewards who provide quality, safe, and cost-effective wastewater treatment for the citizens of Greeley," says Dingeman.

"Plant employees work hard to promote a good public image through an excellent environmental compliance record, customer service, and proactive public education and outreach programs."

Treviño boasts a strong connection to the community where he grew up. "Public education means giving back to the community," he says. "It means a lot to me to go to schools and educate kids and go to Rotary clubs and educate adults so they see what they've been missing and how they can help contribute to future generations."


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