That email I wrote to the Key Largo Wastewater Board made the paper. I’m glad. The prior news story about Tobin walking out of the meeting made it sound like the board members are just fighting over nothing. I suppose it looks that way on the surface. But there are deeper concerns over staffing issues and transparency. As these concerns go unaddressed anxiety grows, prompting some commissioners to probe a little deeper. Then others push back against that. It seems they’re in a bit of a spiral. It’s not constructive.
I do stand corrected on one thing. Dan Saus is a “B” operator. Still, the main point stands. The permit requirements are a bare minimum. They are coverage requirements. It takes more than that to run the plant. The District was able to negotiate lower staffing levels because it proved it could meet Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) standards well before it was required. It didn’t happen with bare minimum staffing levels.
When I became the Operations Manager, the District was in permit trouble. The root cause was that we had one very frazzled wastewater treatment plant operator and a couple of inexperienced trainees. I rotated in a couple of experienced operators, who’d been out on the collection system. There was a bit more to it than that, but once that root issue was addressed everything began to fall into place.
Wastewater treatment plant operators don’t just stand around all day with a license in their hand. It takes a lot more than that. They have to have a working knowledge of biology, chemistry, mechanical issues, regulatory issues, etc. They need to diagnose and correct plant issues. They sample and do lab work. They are monitoring certain plant parameters. They need to know what to look for, what it means, and what to do if they see something heading in the wrong direction. Their work is invisible to most people, but it is critically important, especially in the Keys.
Well, I’ve said my piece. I’m certainly not going to argue over it. It’s not my baby anymore.