Treatment Plants Show How They Put Their Best Face Forward

Plant operators share photos of their signs and the history behind them.

Treatment Plants Show How They Put Their Best Face Forward

The old saying is that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Four clean-water operators responded to Treatment Plant Operator’s request to share pictures of the welcome signs that give visitors an immediate positive vibe about their facilities.

West Basin Municipal Water District (Carson, California)

This new sign was installed in July at the West Basin district’s Juanita Millender-McDonald Carson Regional Water Recycling Plant. This district is a wholesale water agency that provides imported drinking water to 17 cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County in a 185-square-mile service area. The district is a leader in the production of recycled water and in conservation and education programs.

The 3.5 mgd Juanita Millender-McDonald plant further treats Title 22 recycled water from the district’s 40 mgd Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility through microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and nitrification treatment to provide high-quality recycled water to a refinery for boiler feedwater and cooling tower applications.

The new sign, designed by district personnel, was created to increase the facility’s visibility, helping contractors and drivers of chemical delivery trucks. The previous sign was hidden alongside a fence upon entry to the building. The new free-standing sign faces the main public street and includes the district’s logo, facility name and address. ­­

Beloit (Wisconsin) Water Pollution Control Facility

“This sign was designed in the late 1990s with help from a local sign design firm,” says Harry Mathos, director of water resources with the city Department of Public Works. “The original sign was installed and planted by our staff. Our logo held firm until 2018, when the city rebranded itself, and that included a new logo.”

The facility (5.5 mgd average flow) was commissioned in 1991; the sign’s colors reflect the plant color scheme. “The teardrop was designed by the staff and was the original logo for the Water Resources Division,” Mathos says. “We paid homage by including it in the sign. We have since upgraded the base using a professional landscaping firm — money well-spent. Recent construction behind the sign partially obscures it, so we will be relocating it soon.”

New Hartford (Connecticut) Wastewater Treatment Plant

There’s history behind the sign at the New Hartford plant, a 0.4 mgd (design) sequencing batch reactor facility, operated by Aquarion Water Co. that discharges to the West Branch of the Farmington River (a federally designated Wild and Scenic River). 

“As a former geologist, I can appreciate the unique bedrock geology in northwestern Connecticut,” says Derek Albertson, chief operator. “The sign was the brainchild of the New Hartford Water Pollution Control Authority upon completion of the plant in December 2010.”

The rock is a piece of the local bedrock, known as the Satan’s Kingdom Formation, Breezy Hill Formation. “It’s metamorphic rock of medium-grained schist/gneiss and was placed as a reminder of the natural environment the plant is charged with protecting,” Albertson says.

He characterizes New Hartford as “a small, close-knit community.” The Farmington River cuts through the downtown, and fly fishermen can be seen casting lines there. Meanwhile, kids experience the thrill of riding the rapids on a tube or in a kayak.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission

This sign at the WSSC’s Seneca Water Resource Recovery Facility in Germantown, Maryland, recognizes the commission’s 100th anniversary. WSSC is one of the nation’s largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, with a network of some 5,700 miles of drinking water pipeline and over 5,500 miles of sewers, serving about 1.8 million residents. The commission made the name change for its facility to reflect more accurately what its facilities do.

 “We agree that plant signs should be a priority. Customers pass by, and team members enter each day. Signs can have a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction and employee morale. Don’t be afraid to shine — post a sign!”


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