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Watertown’s wastewater management team wins in national contest

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 5:13 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - In a competition like you’ve never seen before, Watertown’s wastewater management team takes home top prizes from a national challenge.

The Water Bears are off! That’s Watertown’s wastewater management team. They say their job is much more than funky smells and full vats.

“Everyone thinks of wastewater as poop and dirty water and disease carrying and yes, it’s all that. But on the other hand, it’s our natural resource,” said Angel French, team captain.

In a national competition, the team showed off the technical side of things in five events: lab work; process control; repairing damaged equipment; rescuing someone who may fall in the wastewater, and unclogging and reassembling valves.

“It’s a great team building experience and it’s unbelievable what they take out of it and the networking these guys are getting from other departments,” said Mark Crandall, team coach.

In October, the Water Bears took home two first place awards and placed second in their division. They competed against more than 30 teams compete from across the nation.

They say competitions like this bust down misconceptions that their job is dirty.

“It’s a very clean job, it’s a very technical job and we take a whole lot of pride in what we do,” said Crandall.

“In our job, we do science, we do math, we do engineering, we do safety, we do confined space entry, we do teamwork,” said French.

The members of the team are Crandall, French, Seth Foster, Richard Lacey, and Jay Slate.

Next up for the Water Bears is a competition in Syracuse in the spring. If they place highly, they advance to another national competition in New Orleans.

With these folks, every day is an opportunity to recover water and keep our plumbing going.

One valve, one pipe and one test tube at a time.

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