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The Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority recognized by the AEA for Best Management Practices and Public Education

The Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA) has been recognized by the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey (AEA) for the second consecutive year and awarded with two Wave Awards for Best Management Practices and Public Education. The awards presentation was held on March 12th at the AEA’s Annual Spring Conference at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City.

The AEA is a trade association of publicly owned government agencies and private-sector businesses that provide or support clean water and solid waste utility services in New Jersey. AEA members collectively provide drinking water, wastewater, recycling and/or solid waste services to approximately eight million people in NJ. The Wave Awards are presented annually and recognize outstanding work and initiatives of individuals and member organizations in the categories of Energy, Management, Innovation, and Public Education. This year, a total of 16 Wave Awards were presented to various individuals and organizations that were recognized by their peers for excellence.

Best Management Practices Award

The RVSA received the Best Management Practices Award for its efforts in advancing operator training and knowledge, minimizing the cost of professional services, and improving plant efficiency. The“Operator Enhancement Program” was established so that RVSA operators could more easily obtain their licenses from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. The RVSA, in partnership with Hudson County School of Technology, offers on-site courses to allow for their employees, as well as qualified community members, to more easily earn their NJDEP licenses and encourages participation through stipends and pay incentives. Through this program, five RVSA employees have obtained six licenses, and with this valuable continued education and training, the RVSA was able to operate at lower staffing levels and reduce overtime for shift coverage resulting in an estimated $145,000 annual savings.

In 2010, Jim Meehan took the role of Executive Director and since that time the RVSA has realized approximately $2 million in additional revenue/savings. In 2013 alone, the RVSA achieved financial efficiencies through reverse-auction electric and gas purchasing for a combined savings of $100,000 annually; adopting improved billing guidelines for legal and professional contracts which significantly reduced legal fees; and, by treating trucked-in, low-strength wastewater, the RVSA realized approximately $500,000 in revenues.

“We are honored that the AEA has acknowledged our push to enhance the professional credentials of our sewer plant operators and the overall improvement strategies implemented for our operations,” said James Meehan, Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority’s Executive Director. “These valuable educational courses provide our workers with the tools necessary for internal management growth, and also helps facilitate operational and cost efficiencies of our facility.”

Public Education Award

The RVSA was also a recipient of the Public Education Wave Award for its efforts in educating the community on wastewater treatment. The goal of this initiative is to promote the role of the RVSA and other sewerage authorities by explaining the wastewater treatment process and providing education on its importance for both the community and the environment.

In 2013, RVSA Office Administrator, Joanne Grimes, was charged with spearheading the public education initiative, and with very limited funding, executed an outreach to middle and high schools in the nearby service area, extending the invitation for organized plant tours – free of charge. The RVSA administrative staff assisted in getting the Plant Tour Program“off the ground”. Members of the staff help to facilitate each site visit, while senior RVSA personnel thoroughly explain the treatment process to visitors through a power point presentation and facility tour. Students are allowed to walk through each step of the treatment process and are provided with informational handouts, as well as goody bags which include shower timers to promote water conservation. More than 500 students and several area environmental groups have taken a tour of the RVSA, and facility tours continue to be scheduled.

“We enjoy hosting the students at our facility and sharing with them all that we do here at the RVSA,” said Dan Ward, RVSA Maintenance Manager. “It’s important for all community members – and especially our youth – to better understand the wastewater treatment process and how facilities like the RVSA serve as vital support to the environment and the communities where they live. These tours allow us to teach young students about the workings of our plant and where their wastewater actually goes. It’s a thrill to see how much they enjoy it!”

The Association of Environmental Authorities of NJ is a 40-year-old association of public water, wastewater, solid waste and recycling service providers in New Jersey, primarily utilities authorities, and also including municipal utilities departments and vendors in the public utility sector. AEA’s focus is utility management, long-range planning, leadership and public policy.

The RVSA is an autonomous agency that owns and operates a wastewater treatment facility located in Rahway, NJ and a trunk sewer system that serves Member Municipalities of Clark, Cranford, Garwood, Kenilworth, Mountainside, Rahway, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Westfield, and Woodbridge and User Municipalities of Winfield Park, portions of Fanwood and Linden. For more information, visit www.rahwayvalleysa.com.

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