Thursday, December 8, 2022

Unsung Heroes: Wastewater Crew Quietly Provides Critical Service

April 28, 2017 – Everyone would probably agree that there are important things in our lives that we occasionally take for granted…good health, the love of family, and a comfortable home are a few examples. It is also very likely that we seldom – or never – think about how fortunate we are to have a sanitary sewer system, maintained by dedicated City employees who keep it functioning properly and, in doing so, protect public health.

“Southlake’s wastewater crew members work tirelessly to keep the system functioning well.  Their contributions are some of the most fundamental and important services the City provides, but their work is seldom publicly recognized or even discussed,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton.  “Their significant, but behind-the-scenes work makes them unsung heroes in my book.”

These crew members inspect lines and clean blockages caused by things like debris or grease.  Effluent must be invisibly transported to a treatment plant, and the City wastewater crew ensures that pumps work, lift stations are maintained, and electrical systems don’t fail.  They operate heavy equipment. Everything they do is meant to ensure the public’s health, safety, and convenience.

The wastewater collection system receives about 3.1 million gallons of wastewater per day. The team maintains the collection system which consists of 208 miles (distance roughly equivalent from Southlake to Austin) of sewer pipe, 15 lift stations and 3,756 manholes.  The lift stations, with a total of 33 pumps, require constant maintenance and cleaning.

These employees often work in the hot sun or in freezing temps…or, alternatively, at 4:00 am.  They are available whenever they needed.

“The hallmark of their great performance is that the public seldom notices what they are doing because everything with our sewer system works so smoothly,” said Yelverton.

If we imagine a world without sophisticated sewer collection systems, and the people to build, maintain and operate them, things get uncomfortable pretty quickly.

The City’s wastewater crew is made up of Jack Thompson, Terry Holloway, Steve Stokes, Joe Robles, Jason Arellano, Christian Nash-Royal, Raymond Buckley, and Johnny Jones.   These employees carry technical certifications, and together have more than 100 years of experience in the water/wastewater industry.