Arkansas Energy Corps AmeriCorps Project Coordinator Dan Dean attended the Environmental Educators Networking Meeting on December 3rd, 2013 at the Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant in Fayetteville.
It’s always refreshing to see how many people in Northwest Arkansas are working to address issues of sustainability in our communities. That was certainly the case at the recent Environmental Educators Networking Meeting at the Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant in Fayetteville. Twenty-one representatives from the University of Arkansas Sustainability Consortium, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Illinois River Watershed Partnership, Ozark Natural Science Center, Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, and other organizations were brought together by Washington County Environmental Affairs to tour the plant and discuss current projects.
I was particularly delighted to realize that more than a quarter of the attendees were current and former Energy Corps (EC) members. The meeting’s organizer, Leah Saffian, is now an Environmental Educator with Washington County Environmental Affairs, as are Rob Moore and two-term EC alumna Liz Hill, who began her position last month as a joint venture between Boston Mountain Solid Waste District and the City of Fayetteville. Dana Smith, now Sustainability Coordinator for Fayetteville Public Schools, shared news about the district’s Green Teams. Current EC member Elana Harrison represented her host site, the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center.
The facility tour led us step-by-step through the process of screening, filtering, clarifying, disinfecting, and aerating the water before it is released into Goose Creek of the Illinois River watershed. According to the City’s website, the facility is designed to process an average daily flow of 10 million gallons per day. We also learned about Fayetteville’s new biosolids drying operation, which uses the sun for approximately 95 percent of the energy required to dry the material. After additional drying with a thermal gas dryer, the material can be sold to farmers and residents as soil enhancement. Because of the new biosolids management strategy, the facility has significantly reduced the volume being hauled from the plant to the landfill—from five truckloads of undried biosolids down to just one truckload.
I imagine most people don’t give much thought to what happens to the water they use after it leaves their home or as it washes over driveways and parking lots. I certainly didn’t know the complexity of the treatment process before the tour, though I had heard that the Greenhouse Gas Emissions report compiled by Liz Hill in her first EC term identified the plant as the biggest consumer of electricity of all City facilities. I do believe that awareness of water quality and other environmental issues will grow further as the leaders who attended the meeting continue their work in our community.
Visit www.energycorps.org for more information about the ways Energy Corps members help educate citizens and address sustainability issues in their communities.