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Columbus Wastewater Facility wins Best in Class

December 15, 2018

For the first time ever, The Columbus Wastewater Treatment Facility has been awarded Best in Class by the The Nebraska Water Environment Association.

It was a part of the The Scott Wilber Award, which the facility received this year along with a Gold Safety Award at the Nebraska Water Environment Federation conference in Kearney on Nov. 8.

“We won the big kahuna,” Facility Supervisor Marty Eaton said. “We were pretty happy to get it.”

The Scott Wilber Award recognizes exemplary operations and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities in Nebraska. The award is named after Scott Wilber, who worked for the the City of Omaha as a wastewater facility operator. It has been given out by the Nebraska Water Environment Association every year since 1955.

The Scott Wilber Awards Committee reviews each applicant’s facility and takes a look at the day to day operations of the plant. Facilities scoring a 75 or higher are presented with a Scott Wilber Award. Two years ago, the committee introduced the Best in Class, which is awarded to one facility in each of the four classification groups.

Columbus is classified in the medium category. This includes facilities in Norfolk, Fremont, Scottsbluff, North Platte, Lincoln Northeast, Hastings and Grand Island. While Columbus had gotten the Scott Wilber Awards every year since 2012, Eaton said this is the first time it has been awarded Best in Class, beating out all previously listed facilities.

“They scored the whole thing up and we happened to win this year,” Eaton said. “Luck of the draw, I don’t know. They liked us.”

Facility operator Mike Landkamer attributed the win to the the recent updates to the facility. In September, phase three of construction was completed. According to the City of Columbus’s website, these improvements consisted of a new headworks facilities, designed to help screen and filter waste.

“Having the wonderful citizens of Columbus continuing on with the expansions projects instead of voting them down, that helps,” Landkamer said.

And Eaton agreed. He said the facility will continue to be improved with phase four of construction, which includes a new blower building, digester tanks and an E.R.S. building. These improvements are scheduled to be completed in June 2020, Eaton said.

“We’ve probably got one of the most up-to-date facilities of our size now,” Eaton said. “I think that’s why we got it.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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