University’s water treatment plant exceeds drinking water standards, garners state award

Western Carolina University’s water treatment plant has been honored for surpassing federal and state drinking water standards in 2018.

The North Carolina Area Wide Optimization Award, presented by the state Division of Water Resources’ Public Water Supply Section, is part of an ongoing effort to enhance the performance of existing surface water treatment facilities. Awards are given each year to water systems that demonstrate outstanding turbidity removal, a key test of drinking water quality. Turbidity is the amount of sand, dirt and other organic and inorganic materials found in water before it is processed through filtration. In addition to causing cloudiness or haziness of water, turbidity can include harmful bacteria and viruses.

While all drinking water systems must meet strict state and federal drinking water standards, the award goes to systems that met performance goals that are significantly more stringent than state and federal standards.

It is the responsibility of the Public Water Supply Section to regulate public water systems, with nearly 6,000 in the state.

“The N.C. Division of Water Resources’ Public Water Supply section depends on efforts of partners like Western Carolina University to make sure the best drinking water is provided to the campus community,” said Eric Hudson, N.C. Area Wide Optimization Program coordinator. “WCU has gone above and beyond what’s required and has enhanced the drinking water for their customers. Kristy Maddy, WCU plant operator, and her team make a daily effort to maintain a high-performing drinking water system for the 9,200 individuals served by their plant. We are honored to present WCU with a N.C. Area Wide Optimization Program Award for the third consecutive year, and sixth overall.”