Tryon receives Safe Water award for ‘progressiveness, neighborliness’

Published 4:48 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Town of Tryon&squo;s water system recently was awarded the North Carolina Safe Drinking Water Act Excellence Award for medium size surface water systems.

Joel Burrell (Public Works Director) and Betty Jones (Water Plant Superintendent) accepted the award at a luncheon at the North Carolina AWWA-WEA annual conference in Winston Salem, NC last fall.

Following is the nomination letter written by Ray McCall, Water Treatment Plant Consultant with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Public Water Supply Section.

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The Public Water Supply Section of North Carolina has worked closely with the Town of Tryon for over 50 years and has found this small town to be very conscientious and progressive when it comes to providing safe drinking water to their customers. Therefore we are in support of their nomination for this excellence award for 2008. The purpose of this correspondence is in support as to why they are unique and deserving of this outstanding recognition.

In the early 1980&squo;s at a time when Tryon&squo;s very old conventional water treatment facility was past it&squo;s useful life, this agency worked with the town to develop a new non-conventional treatment plant and to bring on a new source of water from Lake Lanier in South Carolina.

These improvements were completed and brought on line in 1988 and was the first Aquarius type water plant in this state. This project also involved interconnection with the neighboring Town of Columbus.

Since that time Tryon&squo;s water treatment staff under the direction of Betty Jones has always met or exceeded the Safe Drinking Water standards, even during severe drought periods when quantity and quality have been less than desired. She and the town have worked closely with the SC-DHEC to introduce water quality protection measures on Lake Lanier and have introduced a unique carp fishery program to reduce algae in the lake, which is their main source of supply.

Also during this period the town and staff have developed an excellent emergency response plan, especially dealing with water shortages and conservation. They have worked closely with neighboring communities and have recently reached agreements with the City of Hendersonville, the Town of Saluda and the Town of Columbus to develop a regional water transmission system to serve all parties involved during water shortage emergencies.

During the most recent years Mrs. Jones has provided technical assistance to other small community water systems in this region in developing emergency response plans, customer response training and has written a number of ordinances which she has gladly shared with other community water systems in the region. She has also been very active in waterworks organizations throughout the region.

We feel the Town of Tryon has been more than progressive, but has also reached out to other communities and has supported them in several ways over the past years. Soon they will be beginning a new phase to upgrade and modernize their water treatment facilities and source water capabilities. We will look forward to working with them on these, much needed projects, especially the joint regional project mentioned earlier. The Town of Tryon certainly demonstrates that they are willing to step forward and beyond normal routine operation, to be progressive and neighborly when ever possible in order to meet both current and future needs of their community.