Cause For Celebration?

Clean-water plants find ways to mark special occasions, including those not directly connected with water quality and environmental awareness.

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Special days come many times a year. Do you find ways to celebrate them in your community? Many clean-water plant teams do.
Earth Day (April 22) is a natural. So is World Water Monitoring Day (Sept. 18). And World Water Day (March 22). And Protect Your Groundwater Day. There are others.

And yet those (with the exception of Earth Day) don’t resonate too much with the broad general public. Most people don’t know they exist, let alone when they fall. So how do you forge connections with special days most people do recognize? And is it worthwhile to try? It might be hard to see connections between clean water and traditional holidays, but some creative clean-water plants have forged them.

Cases In Point

This issue of TPO highlights a Fire Chief Project Idea of the Month in which a sanitary district in northern Kentucky conducted special treatment plant tours near Halloween. This wasn’t a haunted house where the lights are turned off, walls and furniture are festooned with spider webs and people dress up in eerie costumes to scare kids.

No, this was about all the scary things that can wreck treatment plant performance, like FOG and disposable wipes. It’s also about what would happen if the treatment plant was not there: Things like undrinkable, foul-smelling water, dead fish, and outbreaks of cholera and dysentery are scary indeed.
Then there’s New York City, where for the past two years Jim Pynn and the team at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant have held special Valentine’s Day tours. The highlight was a visit to the 120-foot-high observation deck atop the plant’s egg digesters — it offers a spectacular view of the city. Those attending (mostly couples) received Hershey’s Kisses chocolates.

Far And Wide

You might ask: How many people would attend such events? And maybe the numbers aren’t huge. But that’s not the whole point. The Valentine’s Day tours at Newtown Creek got publicity across the country and worldwide, in print, on TV and online. And that was a huge opportunity to tell what treatment plants really do — which is make clean water.

The Halloween tours were also well publicized and would be easy for treatment plants around the country to replicate for their communities.
So how could you create an event to mark some special day on the calendar? Fourth of July? Definitely a float in the local parade, but how about something at the treatment plant too, on or around the Fourth? Some sort of water festival with “water fireworks” supplied by the fire department?
Thanksgiving? How about a display of things to be thankful for that relate to water: Fish in the receiving stream, clean swimming areas, abundant wildlife, healthy families.

Easter? You probably wouldn’t want to compete with the community egg hunt on Saturday or Sunday, but the weekend before the holiday is clear. A plant tour featuring baskets of goodies for kids? There’s a lot about wastewater treatment that speaks to the Easter themes of rebirth and renewal. Anyway, you get the idea.

Is It A Stretch?

Am I “pushing it” here? Maybe so, but then who thought something like New York’s Valentine’s Day tours would be the success they have become? A little creativity can go a long way.

What have you done in the line of creative special events at your clean-water plant? Share your experiences by sending a note to I promise to respond, and I’ll report on your successes in an upcoming issue of TPO.   


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