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Operator says it takes team effort to protect environment

With Earth Day 2020 right around the corner, Ben Brooks, superintendent at the city of Medford Wastewater Treatment Facility and a self-admitted steward of the environment, expressed the importance of ensuring the planet’s ecosystem is kept as pristine as possible, and that Earth Day is a great contributor to global recognition of that fact.

“I believe that Earth Day raises the awareness of the negative impact we as a society can have on the environment and earth as a whole,” Brooks said. “Saving the earth’s resources by reusing and recycling is only going to help our ecosystem. By eliminating pollutants we are only helping earth recover faster.”

Brooks works to clean the environment to the best of his abilities, treating wastewater before it has a chance to contaminate the environment.

“By treating wastewater - reducing organics, total suspended solids, phosphorus and ammonia nitrogen - it improves and purifies the water, removing some, if not all, of the contaminants making it fit for reuse back to the environment, namely the Black River,” he explained, saying that if the river were to be polluted to a toxic level, it would cause devastating damage to all nearby beings.

“Properly treated wastewater assures that acceptable overall water quality is maintained. Limiting pollution eliminates the spread of disease, fish kills, and destruction of other aquatic life. Polluted water has a serious impact on all living creatures, and can negatively affect the use of drinking water, recreation, fishing, transportation, and commerce. The removal of these pollutants will only benefit the environment.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 15,000 bodies of water in the United States are impaired by solid and nutrient contamination, along with 101,000 miles of rivers and streams.

“Treating wastewater protects human health, and lesser life forms. The ecosystem is remarkable at healing itself, but it also has it limits. By treating wastewater, and removing the pollutants, it is our way to insure we are doing our part to protect the ecosystem. “

It is rarely just the individual who causes profound change, but rather a group of people working in solidarity towards a common goal. That’s the point of Earth Day, for many people to come together and accomplish what would be impossible alone, and Brooks maintains the same group-oriented mentality.

“A couple of key elements to producing a high quality effluent is having a team of professionals that share the same beliefs, and that belief is protecting the environment. Medford Wastewater lab director/ operator Brooke Klingbeil produces high quality lab data that aids in making daily decisions on process control. Medford Wastewater operator/maintenance Alex Zenner assures that plant equipment is operating correctly so the plant can operate efficiently and optimally. City coordinator John Fales brings years of experience and wisdom to the table and is an integral member of the wastewater team. It takes a team working together to achieve the same common goal.”

Brooks said that people need to stop abusing the environment right now, rather than try and retroactively repair it.

“I’ve always been an outdoors enthusiast and greatly value our natural resources. It is my belief that prevention is always better than a cure.”