Environmental Protection

R.I. Department's Patenaude Gets Spark Plug Honor

Bill Patenaude of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) was recently honored with the "2009 National 104(g) Program’s Wastewater Operator Trainer’s Spark Plug Award” by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management formally acknowledged Patenaude at the annual National 104(g) Wastewater Operator Trainers’ Conference this past June in Chicago, Ill.

Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA's New England Office, said: "I am once again proud to acknowledge Patenaude’s innovative contributions and commitment to help train municipal wastewater professionals so they may be able to better protect water quality and public health, as well as to keep Rhode Island’s waterways clean.”

Patenaude had also received the 2008 EPA Regional Wastewater Operator Training and Certification Assistance Provider Award at the New England Water Environment Association’s Annual Conference this past January in Boston.

Many communities throughout New England and the nation are facing an exodus of experienced and proficient wastewater managers. Implementing actual succession planning is critical to transition current operators into management.

Operator Boot Camp has been designed to achieve the necessary degree of professional development without a high level of expense or program management. A year-long training program to help with succession planning in the municipal wastewater field, it has quickly become a model program that a number of other states are trying to adopt. "Boot Camp" has proven effective in providing appropriate management training for dedicated municipal wastewater operators, as well as other necessary skills for personal improvement to succeed in the industry.

"This award is not just about one name on a plaque. It’s about all the individuals who have helped make Rhode Island’s Wastewater Operator Boot Camp program a national model,” stated Patenaude. “Boot Camp’s success comes from the willing cooperation of many within the public, quasi-public and private sectors, and it shows that even in today’s severe budgetary environmental, government can find innovative ways to benefit the common good without seeking new sources of funding.”

Patenaude also recognized DEM’s partners at the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission and the Narragansett Water Pollution Control Association for their participation in the Boot Camp program.

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