The city’s water quality is a huge source of pride in Mount Airy, and further evidence for that came this week through special recognition by a state agency.
Both water-treatment facilities in town — F.G. Doggett Water Plant in the Laurel Bluff area and S.L. Spencer Water Plant on Orchard Street — were named recipients of the annual N.C. Area Wide Optimization Award.
It was given by staff members of the N.C. Division of Water Resources’ Water Supply section in Raleigh in honor of those facilities surpassing federal and state drinking water standards.
In all, 49 water-treatment plants across the state were awarded, with 5,722 public water systems listed in North Carolina by the state Division of Environmental Quality.
“We are very pleased and proud to receive this recognition, which is the seventh time we have been honored,” city Public Works Director Jeff Boyles commented.
The award reflects a statewide effort to enhance the performance of existing surface water-treatment facilities.
Each year water systems are honored which have demonstrated outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of drinking water quality. Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water caused by individual particles that can interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth.
Microbes are microscopic particles that occur naturally, but can include harmful bacteria and viruses.
While all drinking water systems must meet strict state and federal standards of quality, those being honored met performance goals that are significantly more stringent. During 2016, nearly 3 million North Carolina residents were served by the award-winning plants.
“A superior product”
Mount Airy’s public works director mentioned that the two local facilities have been able to maintain high standards of excellence at no additional expense to water customers.
“We continued operating the plants in a superior manner, sent in our daily turbidity readings to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality as required and maintained our excellent working relationship with their staff,” Boyles added.
“It is a testament to our professional water-treatment operators and is more evidence that our system provides a superior product to our customers.”
A total of nine employees man both the Doggett and Spencer plants.
They include Water-Treatment Plant Supervisor Marty Semones; Andy Utt, assistant water-treatment plant supervisor; and plant operators Jonathan Creed, Dylan Garren, Stan Goins, Paul Hensley, Will Hodges, Brian Tickle and Bobby Titan.
The 49 water plants awarded statewide stretch from Asheville to Wilmington and areas in between.
Mount Airy is on pace for a further honor, the “Gold Star” Award, which goes to systems achieving the N.C. Area Wide Optimization Award for 10 consecutive years.
For 2016, the state tapped five facilities for that recognition — Newton, Two Rivers Utilities in Gastonia, Lincolnton, Marion and Henderson-Kerr Lake Regional Water Authority.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.