Teachers learned firsthand the roles of the County's Water Resources and Environmental Services

Hillsborough County Water Resources and Environmental Services recently hosted the second annual Teacher Workshop to highlight the County's drinking water and wastewater programs.

Science teachers from Hillsborough County Public Schools, along with a student from the University of South Florida's Environmental Engineering Program, participated in the workshop, which was also sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education (NIE) Program. The teachers who attended this year's workshop teach at Stowers Elementary, Gaither High, King High, Alonzo High, Chamberlain High, and Tampa Bay Tech. This year's theme was "The Water Cycle Unseen."

The purpose of the workshop was to inform teachers about County water and wastewater programs designed to protect the collection system "pipes," wastewater treatment plants, public health, and the environment. In addition, teachers were shown how to use this information in their classrooms.

The participants toured the Falkenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant to learn about the biological treatment processes that turn wastewater into valuable products such as reclaimed water. They also participated in presentations by staff and hands-on activities geared toward helping them teach their students about how to protect their pipes, what not to flush, how the wastewater treatment system works, and where to find the County's annual Water Quality Report, an annual report on Hillsborough County's drinking water quality. Tampa Bay Times NIE staff informed the teachers on how to utilize the Newspaper in Education outreach materials in their classrooms. The articles and activities in the NIE are linked to Florida Standards for science, and other topics serve as a valuable teaching tool.

During the tour of the Falkenburg plant, the teachers learned about the "Water Cycle Unseen," specifically what happens to the water that flows down the drain from the shower, kitchen sink, washing machine, sink, and toilet. The wastewater treatment process is a complex yet fascinating process that transforms wastewater into quality reclaimed water and biosolids that can be used to make fertilizer.

Dean Lampman, shift leader for the Falkenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant, demonstrates to Hillsborough County science teachers the clarity of reclaimed water that has been treated.
Dean Lampman, shift leader for the Falkenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant, demonstrates to Hillsborough County science teachers the clarity of reclaimed water that has been treated.

The teachers learned about the County's Pretreatment Programs that focus on protecting the collection system, which are the pipes that transport wastewater from homes and businesses to wastewater plants for treatment. Pretreatment Program staff conduct inspections at commercial businesses that produce fats, oil, and grease-laden wastewater from restaurants, car washes, auto body shops, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and schools. Commercial industries producing wastewater that may affect the wastewater treatment processes are also monitored and inspected to ensure that wastewater does not disrupt the processes at the wastewater treatment plant or compromise the quality of the reclaimed water or biosolids.

Water Resources and Environmental Services staff also discussed the importance of the proper disposal of fat, oil, and grease, which is also known as FOG. Pouring fat, oil, or grease down the drain can cause major sewage backups or a buildup in a home's pipes, which can lead to costly repairs.

Everyday washing of plates, pots, pans, and cooking equipment - such as turkey fryers - sends fats, oils, and grease down the drain, which can build up in the sewer system over time. Fats, oils, and grease may not seem harmful as a warm liquid, but once it cools, the fat, oil, and grease harden and can cause major blockages in the resident's plumbing or septic tank. The County's sewer collection system can also be affected, which could result in sewer overflows onto streets and waterways.

For unincorporated Hillsborough County residents, Environmental Services has a Cooking Oil Recycling Effort, known as CORE. The program encourages residents to collect their used cooking oil and bring it to a location where it can be collected and recycled.

Where do you properly dispose of used cooking oils, fats, and grease? They can be placed in a sealed container and brought to one of 25 County CORE locations to be recycled. You can also request a presentation at your school, home owners association, or assisted living facility to learn more about the County's CORE and Don't Flush It programs.

Learn more about all the programs Water Resources and Environmental Services offer by visiting HCFL.gov.Water.

Image Caption: Dean Lampman, shift leader for the Falkenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant, demonstrates wastewater that has been treated and can be used as reclaimed water.
Posted: 5/7/2024, 4:04:28 PM