Aqua facility operators learn about the controls for the new oxidation ditches at the Midwest Water Resource Recovery Facility
By Aqua Indiana Area Manager Jeff Gard
Having spent most of my professional career in the water industry, I knew little, nor cared much, about wastewater. I mean, that is what we were trying to get rid of in drinking water, right?
Having come from another water utility to Aqua Indiana with a little knowledge of the subject, my scientific background got the better of me and I started digging in to learn more about the difference. First, I learned that unlike water treatment, which is solely a chemical process, wastewater treatment is primarily a biological process. The languages are as different as the processes: digesters, SBRs, ditches, solids and presses. There are also chlorinators, clarifiers and splitters, all of which piqued my interest.
Aqua’s mission statement is protecting and providing Earth’s most essential resource. In water treatment, we provide the most essential resource to consumers to protect their health. We have wellhead protection plans, river clean-ups and education campaigns all designed for the protection of the source water.
The opportunity to join Aqua Indiana as an area manager for Aqua’s two largest wastewater plants began to change my perspective on the role of wastewater treatment. It is a true biological art form of protection for Earth’s most essential resource. Ultimately the treated wastewater is going to become the water source that water operators will treat and provide to others.
Aqua Indiana Facility Operator Carolyn Stout
Not only does Aqua’s largest wastewater plant – the Midwest Water Resource Recovery Facility – sit right next to one of the nation’s largest wetlands preservation areas, but the plant’s effluent discharges into the Graham-McCullough ditch (you read it right) that flows right through the middle of this pristine nature preserve.
Aqua's Midwest Water Resource Recovery Facility
Now my perspective of our mission statement is completely understood. My team’s duty and mission is to treat the wastewater so well that no one can call into question our commitment to protect Earth’s most essential resource, for the flora and fauna of the Little River Wetland’s Eagle Marsh and those who are provided drinking water from the Wabash, Ohio or Mississippi rivers.
What became a new mission perspective for me, was likely already known amongst the Aqua employees who work at wastewater systems. Yeah it still stinks, but not when it is returned to the Graham-McCullough Ditch. Would I drink it? I probably could. I am proud that my job is to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource. We celebrated Earth Day earlier this month, but our mission celebrates Earth Day every day.
Aqua Indiana Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Mark Aurich