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Clearwater Public Utilities Earns Awards from Florida Water Environment Association

7/25/2014 1:03:07 PM

Contact: Clearwater Public Utilities, (727) 562-4960


July 25, 2014

Clearwater Public Utilities Earns Awards from Florida Water Environment Association

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Staff of the City of Clearwater's Public Utilities Department have been recognized with two awards, given by the Florida Water Environment Association, or FWEA. The group helps to unite Florida’s clean water professionals responsible for protecting the environment through education programs, professional development, and promotion of sound public policy. The awards are:

1) Integrated Water Resources Award - Recipient: Tracy Mercer, Public Utilities Director

The Integrated Water Resources Award is awarded by the FWEA to a water resources professional who has set an extraordinary record in Florida of achievement in making, designing, and/or implementing water resources policy or projects at the local and regional levels.

Mercer's holistic approach of water management exemplifies the term "integrated water resources." Clearwater has limited options for water resources, being surrounded on all sides and below by salt water. With limited fresh water supplies and dedication to an earnest walk to self-sufficiency in meeting demand, Mercer and her team must constructively think in new areas, yet continue to ensure reliable service through asset management and employing alternative solutions. A freshwater reverse-osmosis plant, a brackish water reverse-osmosis plant, and groundwater replenishment are the latest technologies Clearwater is employing in this effort. Understanding the importance of stakeholder and policymaker education, their acceptance of necessary upgrades and improvements of aged infrastructure, and by employing conservation and alternative supply methods, Clearwater is creatively providing a sustainable water source for generations to come.

2) Samuel R. Willis Award - Recipients: Jack Sadowski, Wastewater Plant Chief Operator; Jackie Calder, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator C; Dennis Coley, A/C Technician; Ben Troutman, Public Utilities Intern; and the late Bob Baxter, former Utilities Mechanic.

The Samuel R. Willis Award is given by the FWEA in recognition of Samuel R. Willis who risked his life to save another human being and in the process sustained personal injury in November 1976.

This team assisted a coworker from impending drowning and sure death at a wastewater treatment plant. At the plant, water leaves the clarifier, overflows the weirs and into an effluent box; then goes through a huge pipe into an underground junction box to the screw lift. The coworker slipped on algae.

Going down, his wader boots were filling with water, and he was being pulled by the force of the water into the effluent box. His coworkers caught and held him and were able to place a ladder in the clarifier as the water was pushing him down, so that he could eventually climb out using the ladder.

"Water is our most valuable resource, and our team in Public Utilities works hard utilizing our limited resources and new technologies to ensure Clearwater residents receive high quality water for all their needs, and to plan for future water supply for generations to come," said Tracy Mercer, Director of Public Utilities. "I am proud of our caring staff who work together daily to provide these services and who also work hard to ensure each others' safety."

For more information about water or the city’s water resources, call Clearwater Public Utilities at

(727) 562-4960 or visit

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