Maryland Utility Awarded for Public Outreach and Education Efforts

Maryland’s largest water utility earns a national environmental achievement award for its wastewater treatment virtual unit

Maryland Utility Awarded for Public Outreach and Education Efforts

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The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) recently presented WSSC Water of Maryland with the 2023 National Environmental Achievement Award in the Public Information & Education Program at a ceremony for its Introduction to Wastewater Treatment Virtual Unit. The prestigious award recognizes inventive water and sewer utilities’ efforts to educate the public on the effects of wastewater treatment and pollution control.

WSSC Water’s educational outreach program reaches an average of 2,000 students each year throughout two of the nation’s largest school districts. To meet growing demand for environmental curriculum and build more online programing due to COVID-19, staff created virtual tours of the utility’s Seneca and Piscataway water resource recovery facilities (WWRFs), formerly known as wastewater treatment plants. The innovative virtual tour uses 360-degree photos and Google’s satellite technology to provide educators and students a step-by-step tour of how wastewater is expertly treated to protect the Chesapeake Bay by returning clean water back to Maryland waterways. The unit includes a complete curriculum and teacher’s guide. Since its launch in the fall of 2021, approximately 800 students have experienced the virtual program.

“It is inspiring to see our employees finding new and innovative ways to reach more students and teachers who may not be able to visit our plants in person,” says Commission Chair Fausto R. Bayonet. “It is even more inspiring that this virtual environmental education program has been recognized by NACWA.”

“We are honored to receive this notable environmental award from NACWA as it reinforces our commitment to educate tomorrow’s leaders on our clean-water mission,” says WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Kishia L. Powell. “We hope our extensive educational efforts will pique young, curious minds and instill in them a desire to join our mission to protect the environment.”

WSSC Water’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education programs introduce engineering and environmental science topics and careers to elementary through high school-age students. Educators and students can request the Wastewater Treatment Virtual Unit by visiting and clicking on the “request resources or a program” button.

WSSC Water operates and maintains six WRRFs across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The facilities treat, on average, about 70 mgd and help protect the Chesapeake Bay by returning clean water back to Maryland waterways – cleaner than the water in the receiving streams and rivers. In addition to its NACWA recognition, WSSC Water was recently inducted to Leading Utilities of the World Network by the Global Water Leaders Group. By demonstrating excellence in water resource recovery, network operations and emergency management, WSSC Water is now part of a network of 65 of the world’s most successful and innovative water and wastewater utilities from across the world. Considering there are approximately 50,000 utilities in this country alone, the induction is a major accomplishment.


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