August 29, 2019

Natural Resources Staff Discusses Water Quality

This last week in August marks the end of National Water Quality Month. The goal was to remind everyone how important water is in our daily lives, to promote smart use of water, and to emphasize it is a natural resource that should be protected.

Fossil Rim Water/Wastewater Operator Caitlin Pyle (right) and Natural Resources Specialist Vanessa Hays are atop the Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Game Preserve pasture. It can be spotted from the Gosdin Scenic Drive or from the Overlook area.

At Fossil Rim, we as an organization are passionate about conserving species in peril, but we are also focused on protecting and maintaining our natural habitat; that includes water! If you have ever visited Fossil Rim, the natural resources department was behind the clean water that you may have utilized, and it has a lot more uses than just to refill your reusable water bottle.

Fossil Rim has approximately 250,000 visitors annually, and we work diligently to ensure that the Overlook Café can operate and serve our guests, toilets flush, water fountains are operational, and handwashing stations for our guests and staff are available. Where does all of this water come from? The answer is our public well where we maintain the utmost quality standards using a combination of science and technology.

First Lieutenant Coder of the Texas State Guard Regiment of Engineers mentioned how informational this trip was for his troops and how impressed he was with Fossil Rim’s facilities. “It was hard to focus on wastewater when surrounded by such stunning scenery and incredible animals,” he said.

What happens to all this water we use after it goes down the drain? Fossil Rim manages our own Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP)! Water/Wastewater Operator Caitlin Pyle says it is her goal to “release water cleaner than we found it,” which is a mantra adapted from concepts learned during her time in Girl Scouts.

The WWTP cleans our incoming wastewater through biological means and is chemically disinfected before it returns back into the watershed. This can be referred to as recycling water.

In order to ensure the goal of properly treated and disinfected wastewater, we conduct water quality tests frequently throughout our facility to ensure it meets regulatory standards established by the Texas Council of Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This includes testing our potable water (safe for drinking) and our wastewater.

Vanessa Hays (left) and Caitlin Pyle get ready to begin the tour of Fossil Rim’s Wastewater Treatment Plant for the Texas State Guard.

Recently, Fossil Rim hosted the Texas State Guard Regiment of Engineers to tour the Wastewater Treatment Facility and our private and public well houses. Their regiment works with TCEQ to conduct damage assessment reports for facilities that have been affected by natural causes like severe storms. Traditionally, they only see damaged facilities, so we invited them to Fossil Rim to share our properly functioning WWTP and well houses.

This was especially useful for some of the men new to the regiment, because this was their first experience at a WWTP in action. It was a wonderful learning opportunity for both the Texas State Guard and Fossil Rim. They had the opportunity to review a fully functional plant and offer advice on potential improvements of equipment or emergency protocols.

Sergeant Major Cummings and Warrant Officer 1 Lewis (right) explained the importance and honor of receiving a Challenge Coin before giving Vanessa Hays (left) and Caitlin Pyle a coin to signify their troop’s appreciation and the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

Natural Resources Management Specialist Vanessa Hays shared at the end of the day, “It was such an honor to work with the Texas State Guard and have the opportunity to share our professional knowledge and learn from them, as well.”

This is just one example of how Fossil Rim is continually searching for better ways to practice and educate about water conservation.

-Caitlin Pyle and Vanessa Hays, Natural Resources Department


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