RI Team Takes First Place at Ops Challenge

The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) is pleased to announce that RI’s Wastewater Operations Challenge team “Ocean State Alliance” had an outstanding performance during the national competition at the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in New Orleans, LA. The Ocean State Alliance finished top ten in three out of five categories and first place in the Lab and Process categories.

WEFTEC is the world’s largest annual water quality research and technology event. The National Operations Challenge, also known as the “Wastewater Olympics,” features teams of four members representing all regions of the United States (and occasionally international regions) competing in five separate events: operations, maintenance, laboratory, safety, and collection systems. All of the events are timed and judged, and designed to test the diverse skills required for the operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities, their collection systems, and laboratories. Teams respond in real-time to challenges such as water treatment facility flooding, sewer collapses, process failures and other critical environmental and public health emergencies.

The Ocean State Alliance team began preparation in early March under the coaching of the NBC’s Maintenance Manager Mike Spring, and won first place overall in the New England regional competition in June. The team continued drills at the NBC wastewater treatment facility, laboratory and collections at the NBC tunnel pump station throughout the summer months to prepare for New Orleans. “The support, encouragement, purchasing of training equipment, flexibility of work schedules, and use of facilities for training allowed us to strengthen our wastewater skills and directly contributed to our overall success. We have a great support system here at NBC,” said team captain Ed Davies, Process Monitor at NBC’s Bucklin Point Wastewater treatment Facility. Team Captain Davies, was joined by Environmental Chemist Kim Sandbach and Maintenance Supervisor Ryan Patnode of the NBC, and Peter Rojas of the City of Cranston WWTF. NBC’s Lab Biologist Nora Lough participated as a judge for other teams throughout the country.

“This is a real testament to the intense professionalism our clean water professionals have,” said NBC Chairman Vincent Mesolella. “The proof of their expertise, of course, is in the excellent health and quality of Narragansett Bay and our rivers. And at a time when so much conversation is happening about the importance of reliable infrastructure, we understand and appreciate that the human element is critical, too. We applaud these true environmentalists on this great achievement.”