Athol hosts tour of award-winning wastewater treatment plant 

  • Water professionals from across New England participated in a tour of Athol's award-winning wastewater treatment facility as part of New England Water Environment Association’s 17th “Poo & Brew” event. Picasa—Contributed

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2018 11:18:30 AM

ATHOL — More than 35 water professionals from across New England gathered at Athol’s award-winning wastewater treatment facility for New England Water Environment Association’s 17th “Poo & Brew” event to encourage young professionals to go into the business.

“The plant really has gone through those major upgrades, and is considered one of the state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plants — not just in this area, but across Massachusetts,” said Assistant Superintendent Dick Kilhart.

According to its website, NEWEA is an organization of more than 2,100 professionals throughout New England “who volunteer their time, energy and expertise in order to preserve, protect and manage one of our most precious resources here in New England — our water environment.”

The organization’s Young Professionals Committee, which encourages participation of young professionals in NEWEA and assists individuals with professional development within the first five years of employment in the field, joined local professionals for the recent tour of Athol’s facility. 

Athol’s wastewater treatment facility is designed to manage just under two million gallons of wastewater a day, said Kilhart, but treats around 750,000 gallons a day, currently. He said the event was a success for the town. 

“There were a lot of young people,” said Kilhart. “Maybe, the next young wastewater operator who went through the tour that day could be working for the town of Athol two, five years from now. That is part of the problem, there are no young folks getting into this business.”

In 2016, the wastewater treatment plant in Athol was awarded the Regional Wastewater Treatment Excellence Award from the Environmental Protection agency for its exceptional work in operations and maintenance of the plant.

According to Kilhart, the town completed upgrades to the facility around eight years ago.

“This is a huge investment for the residents of Athol,” he said. “And those employees that are there are doing an excellent job in regards to making sure the investment is operating in the way and shape it should, and that we are meeting both state and federal permits.” 

At the event, a tour was led throughout the plant, and staff members were introduced. Those in attendance ranged from wastewater operators, consultants, sales representatives and more. 

Following the tour of the facility, individuals gathered at Honest Weight Artisan Beer for a networking reception. 

“It was a great opportunity for us to showcase something that not a lot of people think about,” said Kilhart. “We know that we hit the handle, and whatever is in the bowl goes down the bowl — we don’t think about that. But where does it go when it gets there?” 

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