Great Chemistry

By Tom Damm

operator1Leslie Gryder of Lynchburg, Va., told her local paper she “felt like crawling under a rock” upon learning she was receiving EPA’s Mid-Atlantic award for excellence in operating a large public drinking water system.

But the spotlight-shy chemist was center stage when Bill Arguto, our region’s Drinking Water Branch Chief, presented her with the award during a ceremony attended by more than 30 people, including city and state officials.

Though largely unsung, water treatment plant operators are on the front lines in preventing waterborne diseases and protecting public health.   You can take this virtual tour of a drinking water plant to see how water is treated and sent to your home or business.  And kids can follow a drop of water from the source through the treatment process at this site.

Leslie Gryder has taken the job to a new level at Lynchburg’s water treatment plant.

“We don’t make this award every year.  If we didn’t think we had a candidate who was deserving, we wouldn’t give it,” Arguto said.

Leslie implemented new processes and procedures to keep the city’s drinking water safe and clean – even assisting neighboring systems in preventing and removing microbial contamination.

If you’re aware of steps your water treatment plant has taken to improve its operations, we’d like to hear about them.

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.  Prior to joining EPA, he held state government public affairs positions in New Jersey and worked as a daily newspaper reporter.  When not in the office, Tom enjoys cycling and volunteer work.  Tom and his family live in Hamilton Township, N.J., near Trenton.