Council 93 Wastewater Professionals Honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 04/03/2013

A small team of AFSCME members running the town wastewater treatment plant in Uxbridge, MA recently received New England-wide recognition from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for "exceptional work in operating and maintaining the plant."

Under the direction of AFSCME 1709 Steward and Chief Operator Jim Legg, the plant was one of just five in New England to be honored for their outstanding efforts in providing clean, safe water for the taxpayers. The facility is staffed by 31-year veteran Legg with Local 1709 members Claude Carrier, Jeff Hetherington and Don Lamontagne rounding out the all AFSCME team. Carrier has 18 years of experience on the job while Hetherington and Lamontagne have served for 13 and 11 years respectively. All four are residents of Uxbridge.

Incredibly, the four-man AFSCME team takes in more than one million gallons of Uxbridge wastewater daily and turns it out clean on the same day. The plant also generates revenue for the town by accepting and processing septic water from more than a dozen surrounding communities including municipalities in Rhode Island.

For Legg and his team, the recognition was an unexpected but welcome surprise for a group that prides itself on being "invisible" to the public. "We view ourselves as umpires in a ballgame," said Legg. "We believe that if we are doing our job right, no one should notice we are there. This award kind of proved that theory wrong because we were noticed but it was for all the right reasons. In a time where public employees get so much negative press, it's nice to see someone saying AFSCME members are out there doing a good job."

"The professionals operating these wastewater treatment plants, as well as the municipalities and the state environmental agencies that support them, are essential to keeping our environment healthy by protecting water quality. I am proud to give them the credit they deserve," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

The work of Legg and his team is just one of many examples of AFSCME members working quietly, efficiently and effectively to keep our state and communities running smoothly. As the EPA press release states, "More often than not, and particularly with the smaller facilities, conscientious operators and staff continue to perform exceptionally with limited resources."

View the full EPA Press Release here.