Meet the people keeping Jefferson County’s wastewater clean + winning big awards for it

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Jefferson County Environmental Services Apprentice
An apprentice with Jefferson County Enviornmental Services hard at work (Christine Hull / Bham Now)

So much goes into making sure we have clean water here in Jefferson County. First, there’s where our water comes from. Then, there’s everything that happens once it goes down the drain to make sure our waterways stay as clean as possible. That’s where the staff of Jefferson County Environmental Services steps in. Five of their nine facilities have just won platinum awards for their hard work. We talked to David Denard, Director of Environmental Services, to find out what this means. 

The awards for Jefferson County Environmental Services and what they mean

Jefferson County environmental services
Inside one of Jefferson County’s water reclamation facilities. (Jefferson County)

Five of Jefferson County’s facilities won Platinum Awards for compliance with over 15,000 permit-related items. But what’s even more amazing is that this isn’t their first rodeo—all five facilities have won awards for the last five to fifteen years in a row. 

  • Cahaba River Water Reclamation Facility—Platinum 5 consecutive years
  • Prudes Creek Water Reclamation Facility—Platinum 5 consecutive years
  • Five Mile Creek Water Reclamation Facility—Platinum 7 consecutive years
  • Norman R. Skinner (Leeds) Water Reclamation Facility—Platinum 7 consecutive years
  • Warrior Water Reclamation Facility—Platinum 15 consecutive years

“We want to make sure our waterways are clean. One of the best ways to indicate that is making sure we always have 100% permit compliance at our facilities. We have about 15,000 compliance points that we have to meet every year.”

David Denard, Director, Environmental Services, Jefferson County

Schedule a tour or report a problem today. Plus, Jefferson County is hiring.

100 million gallons of wastewater per day

Jefferson County Environmental Services
This is a scraper at one of Jefferson County’s facilities. It removes the things like flushable wipes, that aren’t really flushable, so they can treat the waste water. (Jefferson County)

Here are some numbers to give you a sense of just how big the Environmental Services Department’s scope is: 

  • 9 water reclamation facilities that treat everything that goes down the drain, from household to industrial wastewater
  • 23 municipalities served (including small portions of Shelby + St. Clair Counties)
  • 3,500 miles of sanitary sewer lines
  • 100 million gallons of wastewater treated per day (on average)

The people at Jefferson County Environmental Services behind the awards

Jefferson County Environmental Services
Environmental Services conducting a tour of one of its facilities. DYK, you can schedule a tour for your school or group? (Jefferson County)

Keeping our wastewater clean takes a lot of people: the County currently has 447 people working in the department. 

“This is really about the people who are at the plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making sure everything works and is recorded and tracked. We have 15,000 opportunities to fail throughout the year, but we don’t because of our trained and dedicated staff.”

David Denard, Director, Environmental Services, Jefferson County

He credits their success to the following: 

  1. Knowledge of how the plants work.
  2. Competence in operating the plants.
  3. Good decision-making when things go wrong.
  4. Regular maintenance to prevent pump failures.

Check out these apprenticeship opportunities with Jefferson County Environmental Services.

Schedule a tour or report a problem today. Plus, Jefferson County is hiring.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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