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Natchez Water Works recognized by Mississippi DEQ

NATCHEZ — Natchez Water Works has been selected as a member of a state program that recognize environmental leaders in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality accepted city-owned Water Works this week as a member of the department’s enHance program.

The program is a voluntary initiative to recognize state environmental leaders. Participating organizations make “a commitment to address and achieve ongoing environmental improvements,” according to MDEQ.

City Engineer and Water Works Superintendent David Gardner said the Water Works was recognized for its energy-saving improvements to the Natchez Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The city replaced the large fans in the plant’s concrete aeration basins, a $1 million improvement that Gardner said will save the city money in the long run.

Gardner has said the fans are “energy hogs” and will be replaced by tubes that will aerate the waste but use less energy.

The improvements, which also included installing more energy efficient motors on other equipment, are being funded by a loan through the Department of Environmental Quality’s revolving loan fund program, Gardner said.

The loan is being offset by approximately $272,000 in stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Water Works has also been given two awards for its solar-powered greenhouse system at the plant that turns sewage sludge into organic fertilizer.

Water Works also made improvements to a lift station at the plant several years ago that has made the lift station “far more efficient and cheaper to run,” Gardner said.

“All three of those things, people have taken notice of them,” he said. “We have done some good things down at the plant, mainly to save energy.”

The enHance program has three classifications of members: associates, stewards and leaders.

Water Works was accepted as an associate member. The membership requirements include having one active or completed voluntary project with quantifiable results that enhances the environment and a demonstrated commitment to environmental compliance.

Gardner said MDEQ sent him a letter inviting Water Works to apply for the program.

An annual luncheon with workshops for the program in April will give Water Works a chance to interact with the other members of the program and learn how to continue to increase energy efficiency at the wasterwater plant, Gardner said.

The program is composed of mainly private companies and a few municipalities, including Ridgeland, Hernando, Quitman and Southaven.