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Bibbs Water Treatment Plant Plucks another Award The Telegraph

Best of the best: Bibb's water treatment plant plucks another award
BY KEICH WHICKER


For anyone in Bibb County who has ever taken a shower, watered their lawn or drank a glass of water,
the liquid that made these activities possible flowed from pipes linking all the way back to the Frank C.
Amerson Jr. Water Treatment Plant.


The plant, located around the Javors Lucas Lake just across the border in Jones County, recently
picked up the Plant of the Year award - its third in six years - from the Georgia Association of Water
Professionals.


Also, the water that the plant produces, which is pulled from the 625-acre Lucas Lake, was awarded
best drinking water in a 50-county area.


"We're competing with some of the largest plants in the state ... so we take a lot of pride in it," said
Tony Rojas, executive director of the Macon Water Authority. "We try to compete in these
competitions. ... It makes you better at what you do, because you know you need to be taking care of
your plants and have things in order. So it brings a value beyond pride and recognition."


Opened in 2000, the $128 million plant is a collection of industrial buildings with humming machines
and open-air facilities with softly churning bodies of water. All of it helps cleanse and then pump more
than 15 million gallons of water per day to the authority's customer base.


Gary McCoy, the plant's director, bragged that he and the 15 or so employees who help run the facility
produce the cleanest, best-tasting water in the state; it's just that the state doesn't take their word for
it and checks up on them.


"Which is fine," he joked.


The inspection process behind the award is intense.


A team of officials from the state's association of water professionals spends a day scrutinizing just
about everything at the plant that can be assessed, McCoy said.


Recalling how the plant lost out on an award one year because a water hose wasn't coiled and hung in
the right place, McCoy said the inspection is "very thorough." The plant's score this year was slightly
above a 98 out of 100 because the inspectors "have to find something," he added.


Criteria for the award includes treatment processes and safety, said Jack Dozier, executive director for
the association of water professionals.


"These facilities are the best of the best," he said, describing the winners in a news release.
Both McCoy and Rojas credited the authority's employees for the success and recognition that keep
coming its way.

"It's great to have the recognition," Rojas said. "It says that you've got good employees and that you're
running your business and operations the way you ought to. ... It's the employees that help us get the
plant awards. Those plants don't run themselves."


In fact, two employees - Jared Zellner at the Amerson plant and Larry Reynolds, who works at the
reclamation facility on Lower Popular Street - were recognized by the association as outstanding plant
operators.


"We have a history of operators winning those awards," Rojas said.


To contact writer Keich Whicker, call 744-4494.

Re-used by permission of The Telegraph Publishing Company, 2008
www.macon.com

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