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Behind the Tap Spotlight: W.B. Casey WRRF Plant Manager Jim Powell

Meet W.B. Casey Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) Plant Manager Jim Powell. Jim oversees the day-to-day operations of CCWA’s largest wastewater treatment plant, which is permitted to treat 24 Million Gallons Per Day (MGD).  This plant discharges highly treated effluent to CCWA’s E.L. Huie Jr. Constructed Treatment Wetlands and the Flint River.

“Many people think about a wastewater treatment facility and cringe at the thought,” he says. “It is necessary for the health and safety of the public. The true science of it is fascinating. We are not just treating wastewater, we are reclaiming for drinking water, public use for fishing in our reservoirs, making fertilizer for the Georgia peanuts, discharging for downstream users, and adding the benefit of wildlife sanctuary for many different species of birds and animals.”

Jim manages an operational staff of 11, analyzes lab and process control data to make operational adjustments and ensures the plant is operating within its permit limits. He ensures all processes are working efficiently, all mechanical equipment is working correctly, and all preventative and corrective maintenance is completed utilizing plant staff and CCWA’s General Services Department. He also provides plant tours for high school and college students, members of the community and industry peers. Internal and external communication are also a big part of Jim’s job, plus keeping a happy and productive workforce at the plant.

Jim has worked for CCWA for more than 32 years. He enjoys sharing knowledge that he has collected during that time. “I really enjoy seeing employees I have helped coach achieve their goals,” he says. “Nothing better in the world than seeing the smile on someone’s face that has worked super hard, and that hard work helped them pass a test, get a promotion, or earn a great review.”

Jim also likes being a part of the team that is focusing on future decisions for the plant. “I like looking at processes or procedures to make sure that it’s the most efficient and economical way it should be done. I don’t like the saying, ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. I look to see if it’s the right way or the best way and then build the consensus for changing it,” he adds.

Working at a plant as complex as the Casey WRRF means there are constant challenges. Over the past few years, many new aspects and processes have been added. Some of these have added additional difficulties. He says steering staff through these issues can be challenging.

Rain also adds inherent challenges to the world of wastewater treatment. “Every time we get any general amount of rain, our flows elevate 100 to 200 percent. Managing those flows through out the storm and through then next day can be tough on all of us,” he adds.

Amidst the wins and the challenges, his main goal right now is getting the team ready for his retirement next year. “Making sure that all of the staff have the experience and training to step right in when positions come available and working to get as many issues as possible resolved so that the transition is smooth.” #waterprofessional