A Nod to Port Hope

This past December, I was fortunate to be on hand for the grand opening ceremonies of the Municipality of Port Hope (Ont.) Water Treatment Plant. The $17 million (CAN) state-of-the-art water treatment plant played host to a number of governmental dignitaries, local residents and various members of the business community, including representatives from Zenon Environmental, whose membrane technology plays a key role in the water treatment plant’s operation.

I listened to Rick Trumper, supervisor of the Port Hope Water Treatment Plant, speak about the progression of the new plant from inception to grand opening, highlighting many points in between. He explained that the plant had been online since October 2005, but the idea to upgrade the water treatment facility was spawned from new regulations following the Walkerton, Ont., water tragedy.

For those of you not familiar, in May 2000, seven people died and more than 2,000 people fell ill due to E.Coli present in Walkerton’s water system.

All told, Trumper said to those present that, “…there have been a few bumps along the way, but it’s been a successful delivery.”

Peter Angelo, municipal director of engineering services for the Municipality of Port Hope, explained that the city’s old water treatment plant was built in 1938 and underwent various upgrades through the 1970s. Due to the more stringent regulations, the municipality opted for a new water treatment plant to meet long-term water treatment needs as opposed to upgrading the old facility at a cost of nearly $10 million.

“The water treatment system is simple, expandable and cost-effective, and it provides the cleanest, safest drinking water in Ontario, both now and for many years to come,” Angelo told the crowd gathered for the facility’s grand opening.

Seeing the smiles on the faces of Trumper, Angelo and the many others involved in the design and construction of the Port Hope water treatment facility, it was easy to sense the satisfaction and accomplishment in making the water treatment plant a reality.

Having been on tours of various water and wastewater treatment plants around North America, I have noticed the people working behind the scenes at both types of plants take a tremendous amount of pride in the work they do everyday.

Their goal is to quietly serve the daily water and wastewater needs of a community, a service that is generally taken for granted. Often, it takes a tragedy such as the one in Walkerton for a water or wastewater treatment plant to be noticed by the general public.

However, I was privy to a different side of the equation due to a conversation I overheard during the grand opening of the Port Hope Water Treatment Plant. A local resident approached Trumper to pass along his congratulations to Trumper and his group of professionals for their work and dedication toward getting the Port Hope plant online. This citizen just wanted to say “…thank you, for giving us better drinking water.”

The smile on Trumper’s face was priceless after he took a swig of Port Hope’s drinking water and nodded, essentially conveying “you’re welcome.”

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