Wellington’s water treatment plant has received a prestigious state award, as village officials gear up for a multimillion-dollar project to replace an aging part of the facility.
At a conference last week, the American Water Works Association’s Florida Section named the plant on Wellington Trace the Most Improved Water Treatment Plant in the state for last year.
“It just confirms we continue to head in the right direction,” utility director Shannon LaRocque said. She cited continuing efforts to proactively maintain equipment, improve water quality, reinforce teamwork and work across divisions “to provide excellent service.”
The $16 million renovation kicking off this year will replace the oldest of three plants at the water treatment facility, LaRocque said. Wellington is accepting bids now through the beginning of May, with work expected to begin in August.
It will take about two years to replace the 30-year-old plant, she said. “It has to be carefully sequenced to ensure at no time do we impact our ability to provide water,” LaRocque said.
A new control building and laboratory also are part of the project. During budget discussions last year, Wellington officials said they saved for about 10 years to pay for the work at the water treatment plant and renovations planned for the village’s water reclamation facility on Pierson Road.
In selecting Wellington’s facility as most improved, the AWWA reviewed several factors. The village had to submit an application with information on water quality, where plant superintendent Karla Berroteran-Castellon answered questions on bacteriological samples, chlorine and contaminant levels.
The application also asks for information on the plant’s maintenance, including pumps, motors and storage tanks. Berroteran-Castellon detailed daily walk-through inspections, annual reviews and data collection.
The award is “an honor,” LaRocque said, and a testament to her team’s work. “I’m very proud of my team,” she said. “It’s an awesome group. They really are true utility professionals.”
Also included were questions about “professionalism,” with questions about certification levels of plant operators and employee participation in trade organizations — something LaRocque has worked on since joining the village about a year and a half ago. One of her tasks when hired by the village was “to become more active in the profession,” she said.
“We’re seeing a lot of results, but I didn’t do it by myself, certainly,” LaRocque said. “We have 60 people on our staff who made this happen.”