By Valerie Baldowski
Two longtime employees of the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority have been recognized for their service.
During the spring conference of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, David Whitson and David Farmer received "Top Op" awards.
Whitson, who has more than 40 years' experience at the utility, was selected as Top Water Plant Operator for District 3. Farmer, who has worked for the authority since 1998, was named District 3 Best Wastewater Plant Operator. The presentations were made in Columbus, in April.
Whitson, 60, is division manager of water production for the authority, and also is Farmer's supervisor. Farmer, 30, is a Class I Wastewater Operator.
"My job as a plant operator would basically be to monitor and test the wastewater treatment process," said Farmer. "The main job of a wastewater operator is to oversee the treatment, and administer the tests required."
Whitson said he has seen considerable growth in the county's water system over the years. "When I started, we had no water-treatment plant," he said. "We bought our water from Clayton County, and the City of McDonough."
Construction on Henry County's own water-storage tanks began in the early 1970s, he said.
"The first two tanks we built in 1971," he continued. "One was on Highway 155, south of McDonough. The other one was on Panola Road, north of Stockbridge."
Whitson said the water to fill the tank on Ga. Highway 155 was bought from McDonough, and the water to fill the tank on Panola Road was bought from Clayton County.
In 1975, the water authority built its first water-treatment plant, the Towaliga Plant, said Whitson. The plant is located two miles southwest of Locust Grove. He said it went into operation in 1976.
As a division manager, who supervises 62 employees, Whitson is responsible for overseeing all wastewater treatment, as well as the quality of drinking water. "All of the state and federal compliance requirements are my responsibility," he said. Despite the paperwork involved, he said, he enjoys what he does.
"I love all aspects of my job. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here for 40 years," he said.
Farmer said he also enjoys his job, and that he has worked at each of the four wastewater-treatment plants, as well as in Land Application System operations, and in the "Bio-Solids" department.
"As far as the job at-hand, I feel it's an important role," he said. "I take pride in trying to do a good job, in turning out a quality product, for the community and the environment."