"Whenever I'm on the job, I hold my head up high. Of course, I work in the sewer. If you don't hold your head up high, you'll drown." Ed Norton (Art Carney) on "The Honeymooners"
If Ed Norton worked for the Northern Gila County Sanitary District, he'd have another reason to hold his head up high.
For starters, the NGCSD's wastewater treatment plant and reclaimed water sites and facilities have received a "full compliance" rating as the result of its most recent inspection by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for the fifth time in as many years.
"Basically, that's unheard of," said General Manager Joel Goode. "ADEQ doesn't give those things out very freely.
"It's quite an achievement to receive 'full compliance' from our regulatory agency once, let alone five times."
To what does he attribute this positive attention?
"Good hard work, good people, a good overall operation starting with our board of directors all the way down," Goode said. "We take pride in what we do, and we take our job very seriously. This is one of the small rewards that comes with that."
The inspection was conducted by ADEQ on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Its purpose was to measure compliance of the district's operation with the requirements of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit, the ADEQ Reuse Water Permit and the ADEQ Aquifer Protection Permit. Areas which are reviewed include results of monitoring and reporting for each permit, discharge limit analysis, operation and maintenance requirements, and operator certification.
In addition to the ADEQ recognition, the NGCSD has received a number of awards, including being named "Plant of the Year" in 1989 and 1999 by the Arizona Pollution Control Association, which comprises all of the wastewater and water plants in the state.
"With the 'Plant of the Year' award, we have been recognized by our peers for the performance our facility has had," Goode said.
"For operating within our permits and within the parameters that are set within the permits; for not violating any rules and regulations given to us by our regulatory agencies; and for involving the community in our operations."
Fortunately for their customers, Goode added, no one at the NGCSD is going to be resting on his or her laurels.
"Right now, we're planning expansion," he said.
"As the town grows, the facilities are going to need to grow ahead of the town so that we're prepared to handle the new lots and buildings that are going to want to connect to the sewer system in the next few years.
"We've done some preliminary engineering, we're looking at what it's going to cost, what techniques we're going to use, and just how we're going to approach expansion.
"When the time comes and we estimate that it's probably four to five years out we'll begin construction of those new facilities."