By Joel Hall
The Georgia Association of Water Professionals recently awarded David Blackstock, chief operator of the W.B. Casey Water Reclamation Facility, it's 2009 District 3 (metro Atlanta) Wastewater Plant Top Operator (Top Ops) Award.
The statewide water utility association also recognized three Clayton Water Authority facilities as being in complete compliance with state discharge requirements for no less than eight years.
The water authority was recognized during the state association's recent Spring Conference in Macon. Bryan Wagoner, communications director for the association, said Blackstock's honor represents the third year in a row a Clayton employee has received the award, a first for any water authority in the state.
"No one facility has nominated three Top Ops from a single authority," Wagoner said. "On average, we have 18 [operators] selected statewide from a potential pool of hundreds. The bar is set fairly high. It is actually someone who stands out as an outstanding operator, as far as their stewardship of the environment, their professionalism, and how efficiently they run their facility."
Jim Poff, Clayton's water reclamation manager, nominated Blackstock for the award. Poff said Blackstock, a water authority employee for 21 years, created the preventative maintenance program for the Casey Water Reclamation Facility in Jonesboro. He added that other facilities in the state have tried to emulate the program.
"He wrote the program from scratch," said Poff. "It's very important in these times, because there is very little money for capital improvements. If you do the proper preventative maintenance, you reduce your down time, and increase the life of your assets."
Blackstock said he is honored and "surprised" by the award. "It's a really great award," he said, " ... because the other two [Clayton operators] that have received this award are like me. They are really conscious of their work. They're just not here to get a check or to get by. They are here to help the environment as well."
In addition to Blackstock's award, the water authority's Shoal Creek Water Reclamation Facility, William J. Hooper Water Production Facility, and Terry R. Hicks Water Production Facility were all recognized for having "platinum" compliance. All three have been in continual, 100 percent compliance with state discharge requirements for five years or more.
The Shoal Creek, Hooper, and Hicks plants have been 100 percent compliant for 12, 11, and 8 years, respectively. Wagoner said to be 100 percent compliant, facilities must keep heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, bacteria, and other particulate matter in the water to a minimum, and that 12-year compliance is a feat "less than five" facilities in the state have achieved.
Poff said the water authority's performance boils down to the work of its employees. "We're thrilled that we're getting recognition for the high quality employees we have," he said. "You can buy the best equipment in the world, but it all comes down to the employees who operate that equipment."