Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thank You, Athens-Clarke County Citizen

I hate to be a party pooper, but the 50 year celebration of wastewater treatment in Athens-Clarke County (ACC) must come to a close.  Athenians are fortunate to have essential and exceptional wastewater services that safely reclaim, refresh, and return the water we use to the environment. Our treatment systems have continually grown and improved as the community has expanded and technology has advanced over the last 50 years. Water reclamation plays a significant role in our health and quality of life in Athens. 
During our celebration we have highlighted several of our dedicated ACC Public Utilities employees in the “Unsung Hero” section of the ACC website.  Lucky for us, they are performing essential - and often not so glamorous - jobs that are vital to the health of our community. These unsung heroes make sure that you have safe and reliable wastewater services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Lily Anne Phibian reminds us our
toilets are not trash cans.
Before we end our commemoration, we must acknowledge one more unsung hero in the world of wastewater.  This person does not work for ACC, but plays a significant role in the treatment of our effluent.  Who is it?  YOU, the beneficiary of improved sanitation in Athens.  After potable water is used, it becomes wastewater.  It is created with the flush of a toilet, the washing of dishes, the rinsing of clothes, and the draining of a bathtub.  We all contribute to the outflow, whether it is from our own homes or used by local businesses to produce the items and services we consume.

Tommy Hall recycles used FOG at
one of several collection sites in ACC.
The citizens’ role in wastewater treatment is more than a passive one.  Anything and everything you put down the toilet or drain has an effect on our water reclamation facilities (WRF).  Our systems are equipped to handle the usual suspects found in wastewater:  pee, poo, and paper.  However, other items, such as plastics, prophylactics, paper towels, baby wipes, and pharmaceuticals, are harmful to the WRF equipment.  Fats, oils, and greases (FOG) result in clogs, which lead to sewer overflows.  We thank you, another one of our unsung heroes, for remembering your toilets and sinks are not trashcans.  We thank you for putting FOG in the trash can or recycling it to protect our waters.

Athens Council on Aging replaced
old toilets with new, low flow ones
and repaired leaks to conserve water.
We appreciate all of your efforts toward water conservation. Like anything else used daily, the components of the WRF suffer from wear and tear.  Larger volumes of wastewater entering the plant contribute to this deterioration.  Efficient water use in your household improves the functioning of our WRFs, increases the lifetime of each facility, and reduces maintenance and repair costs. 

We ended 2012 with a greater appreciation for you, and all of the Unsung Heroes, who helped Athens-Clarke County reach 50 years of successfully reclaiming, refreshing, and returning our waters to the source.  This has been something to celebrate.  Party on.

Thank you.

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