ADAMS -- The town's waste-treatment superintendent says staff are to thank for an excellence award the wastewater treatment plant recently received from the federal government.
Adams' wastewater treatment plant was one of five specific New England facilities, along with Lee's, selected by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a 2012 Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Excellence Award.
"I'd have to says it's the knowledge and experience of staff," Joe Fijal said Wednesday. "It was an honor to be recognized for the achievement."
With a staff of seven, Fijal at the head and Richard Biros as Operations Supervisor, are credited for their commitment to improving water quality in an energy efficient manner.
Roughly two million gallons of water goes through the plant daily for treatment and return to the Hoosic River. The process limits the phosphorus, ammonia and chlorine content in town wastewater and removes harmful bacteria before its released back into the environment.
The facility itself is almost 40 years old. It received a $3.1 million upgrade over the mid 2000s from Interstate Engineering Corp. of Salem. The annual operating budget is roughly $650,000.
Town Administrator Jonathan Butler called the employees a "great group of guys" many of whom are employees of over 20 years.
"I was very pleased but wasn't surprised to see them be recognized," Butler said. "They're dedicated to functioning our
Fijal said looking ahead the plant aims to continue working with EPA to meet and exceed their parameters, which tend to become more restrictive over time. But he and the rest anticipate meeting new challenges, he said.
Former Selectmen Edward Driscoll, a player in the town's decision to upgrade its facility in the 2000s -- one of the best in officials made in that era, he thinks.
"We spent a lot of time and effort researching and looking at various plants all over the place before ultimately coming to a consensus," Driscoll said. "... It's paying back in savings and performance."
The upgrades cut down on sludge and electricity expenses. At the time of the project, these respective savings were estimated at $80,000 and $20,000 per year.
A particular point of pride for Fijal was the facility's performance during Tropical Storm Irene, when 10 million gallons of water found its way through the plant and operations continued on smoothly despite the deluge. Other regional plants were overwhelmed.
"Our equipment ran well and I guess maybe that's one reason we were targeted for an excellence award," Fijal said.
To reach Phil Demers,