MILTON — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection presented the 2018 Plant Operations Excellence Award in the small community category to the Naval Air Station Whiting Field Public Works department on Feb. 12 at Northwest Florida College. This is the seventh consecutive year NAS Whiting Field has received the recognition.

“The driving factor in the award was the partnership between the environmental division, which is responsible for monitoring water quality compliance to ensure it’s safe, and the operations plant,” said Jeff Kissler, NAS Whiting Field Installation Environmental Program Director.

The operations plant is run by the installation contracting company, Electronic Meteorology Laboratory, LLC (EML), which is responsible for the treatment maintenance of the plant. Aaron Mitchell, physical scientist with NAS Whiting Field Public Works department said, “The successful partnership was due to the quick notification and response on any issues. They were proactive and very responsive.”  Additionally, Mitchell noted that in 2018, “the department had no issues with drinking water monthly operating reports that were sent to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) by the 10th of every month, and were well below or within reportable levels.”

DEP selects winners based on excellence in operation, maintenance, innovative treatment, waste reduction, pollution prevention, recycling, or special achievements. The specific district, Northwest District in which the competition was based, runs from Escambia County to Jefferson County, and is one of six Florida districts.  DEP regulates any community that serves 25 or more people for at least 60 days of the year, and small community water systems consist of systems that serve less than 3,000 people. The department is awarding a total of 18 facilities, including 10 domestic wastewater facilities and eight drinking water facilities statewide.

The NAS Whiting Field Public Works Department provided many initiatives that led to the recognition, including awareness training to inbound students to educate them on the importance of reduction of water use. Based on the water reduction training, installation staff members have made efforts to reduce water consumption with no mission impact to include discontinuing wash racks, facility upgrades and increasing the use of reusable containers.

“On behalf of DEP and the state of Florida, I am proud to recognize Bay County Water Treatment Plant, Destin Water User Inc., and Naval Air Station Whiting Field for their commitment to operational excellence,” said Shawn Hamilton, Director of DEP’s Northwest District.

The Public Works team onboard NAS Whiting Field has earned several environmental awards recently to include: the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Award for Environmental Quality for a Non-Industrial Installation; Community Service Environmental Stewardship award medium shore honorable mention; and the Secretary of the Navy 2018 Energy Excellence Award Navy Small shore category.

“This most recent recognition from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2018 Plant Operations Excellence Award in the small community category, is a testament to the hard work and dedication our Public Works department and EML contractor show each and every day in support of our mission here at Whiting. Congratulations Public Works, this is well-deserved,” said NAS Whiting Field Commanding Officer, Capt. Paul Bowdich.