Though a little late in coming, another water quality award was presented recently to the treatment plant serving Western Carolina University, said to Kristy Maddy, supervisor of the plant.
The Turbidity Optimization Award for 2014 was given by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources, she said.
Turbidity is a measure of water cloudiness or haziness; a low score means higher water clarity and quality.
“It’s an area-wide optimization program with a goal to provide the best quality water to the consumers,” Maddy said. “The calendar year’s worth of turbidity data has to be compiled for each water treatment plant in the state after the year ends. It is usually toward the end of the next calendar year before you hear if you get the award.
“I am not sure why we just received it for 2014,” she said. “The state consultant that brought it to us apologized for it taking so long and said they were behind with getting the awards out. We were so happy to get the award we didn’t really question it.”
This award is hard to achieve because the settled and filter water turbidity levels have to be under certain parameters 95 percent of the time, Maddy explained. “The filtered water is easier to control and maintain than the settled water. Cold temperatures make it more difficult to treat the water. It is hard to get the turbidity to settle out during the winter months. The operators and myself have to constantly monitor the processes and make adjustments to keep the levels in range.”
Maddy, a 1997 alumnus of WCU, has served as a water plant operator since 1999 and as supervisor since 2007 at WCU’s 50-year-old water treatment plant. The treatment plant – and Maddy – have received a number of recognitions for excellence in providing water quality.