SOCWA’s J.B. Latham Facility Named “Plant of the Year”

Dana Point, Calif. (March 5, 2018) – The South Orange County Wastewater Authority’s (SOCWA) J.B. Latham Wastewater Treatment Plant was awarded “Plant of the Year” Saturday by the local chapter of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA).

The plant is considered a medium size facility, and SOCWA was honored for its overall performance, financial strength and recent innovations, which offset nearly $500,000 in annual energy costs.

“The J.B. Latham operators and engineers are exceptional,” said Betty Burnett, SOCWA’s General Manager. “They deserve this award and I am so honored to work alongside this dedicated and expert team of professionals.”

Judges were particularly impressed by the plant’s “co-generation” capabilities. This process allows the facility’s main engines to generate enough energy to operate plant facilities and reduce the need to purchase energy from outside utilities. The implementation of the co-generation capabilities has reduced the plant’s external energy needs by 60 percent.

The plant also scored extremely well for environmental compliance, safety, public engagement efforts and financial management.

Additionally, Bob Kallberg was named “Silver Operator of the Year” by the local chapter of the CWEA. Mr. Kallberg is a plant operator at the facility and was chosen by his peers from across the region for the honor.

“We are so proud of Bob and what he does for the people of South Orange County,” continued Burnett. “He is a true pro and deserves this award.”

The J.B. Latham Plant has a total treatment capacity of approximately 13 million gallons. It currently treats about 6.7 million gallons per day. The plant was built between 1960 and 1970, though its roots trace back to the 1940s. It treats wastewater to federal and state standards then safely discharges water through a nearly two-mile long ocean outfall.

The mission of the California Water Environment Association is to enhance the training and effectiveness of California’s wastewater professionals. Its local chapter, known as the Santa Ana River Basin Section or SARBS, promotes industry training and expertise among its membership. SARBS held the awards banquet in Orange on Saturday, March 4.

As a result of the SARBS award, the statewide Water Environment Association is also considering the J.B. Latham plant for its statewide “Plant of the Year,” which will be awarded later this spring.

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