Phoenix Wastewater Treatment Plant

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For the seventh year in a row, the city of Phoenix’s 23rd Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant has been honored for its environmental efforts. The plant and employees have won the National Association of Clean Water Agencies Platinum Performance Award. Dennis Porter, Assistant Water Services Director, will tell us more about why the plant was honored.

TED: TONIGHT'S EDITION OF ARIZONA SUSTAINABILITY LOOKS AT PHOENIX'S 23RD AVENUE WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT WHICH RECENTLY WON AN ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD FOR THE SEVENTH STRAIGHT YEAR. TO TELL US MORE IS DENNIS PORTER, THE CITY'S ASSISTANT WATER SERVICES DIRECTOR. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN THANKS FOR JOINING US.
TED: TWENTY-THIRD WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLAN. THIS IS A NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CLEAN WATER AGENCIES. WHO KNEW SUCH AN AGENCY EXISTED BUT THEY SURE KNOW YOU EXIST.
DENNIS PORTER: MOST OF THE LARGE UTILITIES IN THE COUNTRY ARE WHAT WE CALL NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CLEAN WATER AGENCIES. TED: AND YOU'VE GOT A PLATINUM PEAK PERFORMANCE AWARD.
DENNIS PORTER: WE DID AND WORKED HARD FOR THAT. SO ESSENTIALLY THE AWARD IS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO WERE ABLE TO ACHIEVE COMPLIANCE WITH OUR DISCHARGE. WHICH IS BASICALLY TREATING OUR WATER TO A REALLY HIGH LEVEL, A HIGH QUALITY AND WE DID THAT FOR SEVEN STRAIGHT YEARS. BASICALLY WHAT THEY CALL A PERMIT THAT WE GET FROM THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE EPA, THAT IS ABOUT A 50-PAGE DOCUMENT THAT OUTLINES EVERYTHING WE HAVE TO DO TO TREAT THE WATER TO A VERY HIGH STANDARD.
TED: I THINK WE HAVE SHOTS OF THE PLANT AS IT EXISTS RIGHT NOW AND THIS THING HAS BEEN UPGRADED AND EXPANDED OVER THE YEARS, IT STARTED QUITE A WHILE AGO.
DENNIS PORTER: IN 1938, I BELIEVE, THE FIRST PLANT WAS BUILT OF THE STANDARDS FOR TREATMENT WERE DIFFERENT AT THAT TIME. THEY'VE INCREASED THE STANDARDS, THE REQUIREMENTS FOR HOW WE TREAT THE WATER. GOTTEN MORE STRICT. AND OUR PROCESSES HAVE GOTTEN MORE COMPLICATED. THERE'S 45 PEOPLE THAT WORK REALLY HARD AT THAT PLANT DOING EVERYTHING FROM OPERATIONS TO MAINTENANCE TO ENGINEERING TO ELECTRICIANS AND MAINTENANCE MECHANICS. YOU NAME IT.
TED: AND HOW MUCH THAT COMES OUT OF THIS PLANT IS RECYCLED AND REUSED?
DENNIS PORTER: VIRTUALLY ALL OF IT. JUST ABOUT ALL OF THE WATER WE RECLAIM AND SEND TO THE ROOSEVELT IRRIGATION DISTRICT FOR IRRIGATION OF CROPS.
TED: WOW, THE WATER IS USED FOR AGRICULTURE, CORRECT.
DENNIS PORTER: THAT'S CORRECT.
TED: AND THE SOLIDS USED FOR NON-FOOD STUFFS AND FERTILIZERS.
DENNIS PORTER: THAT'S CORRECT.
TED: WE'RE LOOKING AT THE WAY THIS EXISTS NOW. HAS THAT ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE AS FAR AS RECLAIMED WATER?
DENNIS PORTER: FOR THE MOST PART, YES.
TED: I WANT IT TAKE -- LOOK SHOTS AT THE TREATMENT PLANT. BUILT IN 1938, A LONG TIME AGO AND A VERY DIFFERENT OPERATION.
DENNIS PORTER: VERY MUCH WAS. BACK THEN, IT WAS PROBABLY MORE OF WHAT WE CALL THE PRIMARY TREATMENT PLANT AND HAD OLD-STYLE FILTERS AND AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, THOSE TREATMENT PROCESSES HAVE GOTTEN BETTER OVER TIME. THERE'S MUCH MORE TIME AND EFFORT BEEN PUT INTO THE DESIGN OF THE FACILITY AND HOW THEY TREAT THE WATER AND THE SOLIDS AS WELL AND IT'S A PRETTY COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT AT THOSE TREATMENT FACILITY.
TED: WITH THAT IN MIND AND WITH THE UPGRADES AND EXPANSIONS THAT'S OCCURRED OVER THE YEARS, WHAT'S NEXT? DO YOU KEEP IT AS IS OR ALWAYS EVOLVING?
DENNIS PORTER: IT'S ALWAYS EVOLVING, WE HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ASSET MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. THESE ARE LARGE COMPLICATED TREATMENT PROCESSES AND WE HAVE TO KEEP UP AND MAINTAIN THOSE FACILITIES AND WE HAVE AN ENERGY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM, ALWAYS LOOKING AT WAYS TO BE MORE EFFICIENT WITH ENERGY AND WE MENTIONED THE BIOSOLIDS/ BIOGAS PROJECT IS ANOTHER ONE. AND WE'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE.
TED: 23RD AVENUE WASTEWATER PLANT HERE, SEVEN STRAIGHT YEARS, ANY REASON TO THINK --
DENNIS PORTER: I SURE HOPE NOT, I BELIEVE WE'LL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO MEET THE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS AND CRITERIA WITHIN THAT PERMIT. WE HAVE A QUALIFIED STAFF AND OPERATORS AND PEOPLE WORKING AT THAT FACILITY WHO ARE MAKING SURE THAT HAPPENS.
TED: AND AGAIN, THIS IS NOT -- IS THIS SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL FOR WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANTS TO WIN THIS MANY TIMES?
DENNIS PORTER: IT'S NOT AN EASY THING TO DO THERE'S A LOT OF STUFF PUT DOWN INTO THE SEWER COLLECTION SYSTEM AND THE PROCESSES CAN BE UPSET AT TIMES AND SO WE'RE VERY DILIGENT DOING TESTING OF THE PROCESS AS WE'RE TREATING THE WASTEWATER AND MAKING SURE THAT THOSE THINGS WE CAN CATCH BEFORE THEY HAVE CAUSE US PROBLEMS.
TED: VERY GOOD, CONGRATULATIONS. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.
DENNIS PORTER: THANK YOU.

Dennis Porter: Assistant Water Services Director

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