The Prince William County Service Authority’s H.L. Mooney Advanced Water Reclamation Facility has won the Platinum Peak Performance Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).

This prestigious award goes to NACWA member public utilities that have operated without a permit violation for five consecutive years. There were just 17 first-time platinum award winners nationwide this year.

The Service Authority was recognized at the NACWA’s Summer Conference and 44th Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon on July 15, 2014.

“This is a big deal,” said Service Authority General Manager Dean Dickey. “To operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for five years in all kinds of weather and not be in violation is really remarkable. And it’s a testament to the staff’s professionalism and dedication to their jobs.”

“It’s a significant achievement to go five years in full compliance with our permit,” added Process Engineer Maureen O’Shaughnessy. “It takes daily attention to the plant and to the effluent quality. Everybody has to work together to keep things running smoothly and to be that consistent.”

Each month, the Service Authority issues reports to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which runs the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) created by the Environmental Protection Agency. The system tracks everything from phosphorus and nitrogen limits to dissolved oxygen minimums, which have an impact on aquatic life.

O’Shaughnessy said the Mooney AWRF frequently does better than the standards set by the NPDES. For example, in 2013 phosphorus levels of the treated effluent averaged 70 parts per billion, less than half of the limit of 180 parts per billion. Too much phosphorus can cause an unhealthy buildup of algae growth in the Potomac River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay. The water treated by Mooney AWRF goes to the Neabsco Creek, a tributary of the Potomac.

Dickey said the award is especially impressive considering the rigorous limitations on nitrogen output placed on wastewater plants located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

“Our staff should not only be proud of their accomplishment, but also for doing something extra special for the environment,” Dickey said.