(Front row, left to right) Shirley Burger, Sam Ferraro, Anthony Coronato, and Juana Stoiser. (Back row, left to right) Juan Arce, Mike Young, Kurt Domianus, and Tim Heffron.
Anna Abbinante (Front row, left to right) Shirley Burger, Sam Ferraro, Anthony Coronato, and Juana Stoiser. (Back row, left to right) Juan Arce, Mike Young, Kurt Domianus, and Tim Heffron.
Since most people would rather not be reminded of what’s happening there, wastewater treatment facilities are often hidden from the rest of the community, tucked away behind fences.

That’s the case for the 2.7 mgd Robert F. Reeves Water Reclamation Facility in Bloomingdale, Ill., where Supervisor Shirley Burger and her eight employees generate 9 million gallons of biosolids every year—a direct byproduct of their 22,000 customers.

“It's OK,” she says. “We know what we do makes a difference.”

Built in 1969, the facility has completed 1 1/2 of four phases of improvements that allow it to comply with its NPDES permit. Roto screens provide preliminary treatment, an aeration chamber and two clarifiers provide primary treatment, an aerobic digestion unit provides secondary treatment, and six sand filters provide tertiary treatment. Additional processes include decant tanks, sludge press dewatering, and polymer feeds.

“I want everyone to know that we treat the water today so that there will be good water for everyone in the future,” says Burger, an Illinois Water Environment Association (IWEA) member for at least 25 years. “We make sure that every drop of water that leaves our facility is the best quality it can be.”

Safely manufacturing their product is as important as producing one that meets regulatory requirements. A locking procedure on the facility’s supervisory control and data acquisition system, for example, de-energizes equipment during maintenance to keep employees safe from uninvited startups. A village safety committee regularly inspects and audits operations.

These and other measures earned Burger and her team IWEA’s 2014 George W. Burke Safety Award. The award acknowledges an outstanding safety program at a wastewater treatment facility.

“The village and treatment plant staff are set apart by their attention to detail, field staff participation, and development of Job Safety Analyses, a training program, and administrative commitment to employee safety,” wrote IWEA’s Safety Committee.

Supervisor Shirley Burger takes Public Works on a tour of their facility.