City water plants recognized

By Tom Joyce -

Most people in Mount Airy are unfamiliar with the word “turbidity,” but it has been a key to the recognition of municipal water-treatment personnel on the state and most recently local level.

On the heels of receiving the Area Wide Optimization Award earlier this year from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, employees of the city’s F.G. Doggett and S.L. Spencer water-treatment plants were honored during a council meeting last week.

Those employees include Water Treatment Supervisor Marty Semones, Assistant Water Treatment Supervisor Andy Utt and water treatment operators Jonathan Creed, Dylan Garren, Stan Goins, Paul Hensley, Will Hodges, Brian Tickle and Bobby Titan.

Personnel of the city’s two treatment plants had received word of the state award during the spring, for their surpassing of federal and state drinking water standards for 2015.

It stemmed from the facilities’ outstanding turbidity removal. Turbidity is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of water, which indicates the concentration of participles in the supply.

Turbidity is important with treatment because particulates in the water interfere with disinfection and provide a medium for microbial growth which also can mask the presence of bacteria.

Plants are awarded when water meets thresholds of turbidity during the entire treatment process and the finished product falls under a certain level of federal guidelines for filtered water.

Tom Boyd, senior specialist at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, attended last week’s council meeting to officially present the framed award to the local staff.

Out of hundreds of water-treatment facilities in the state, 56 received the Area Wide Optimization Award.

Along with the purity of water produced there, Boyd mentioned that the local treatment facilities are some of the cleanest in the region.

“You can literally eat off the floor,” said Commissioner Shirley Brinkley, who has visited the facilities, with City Manager Barbara Jones heartily agreeing.

The award was achieved as a result of two main factors, according to city Public Works Director Jeff Boyles.

“We are blessed with good raw water quality in our rivers and we carefully monitor and maximize the efficiency of the many steps of water treatment throughout the entire process,” Boyles said in a statement.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

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