CWEA Wastewater Professional :: April 2014 March 2014 Volume 2 - Page 13

Feature Article | CWEA’s First “Plant of the Year” Award, 1929 CWEA’s First “Plant of the Year” Award, 1929 By Dr. Nicholas Pinhey, CWEA History Committee The CSWA (CWEA) 1929 “Plant of the Year” Award Winner And the Winner is…the U.C. Davis Sewage Treatment Plant! “The board of directors will award the Wallace & Tiernan bronze plaque to the best maintained and operated sewage treatment plant during 1930. The first award of this plaque (for 1929) was made last year at Sacramento to the U.C. Farm sewage treatment plant at Davis, John Jacobsen (sic) superintendent. A cash prize of $25, donated by the manufacturer members of the association, was also presented to John Jacobsen (sic). A similar cash prize will be awarded at the spring meeting (California Sewage Works Journal, 1929, Vol. III, No. 1, p. 7).” CWEA’s Plant of the Year Award program is almost as old as the Association itself. One of the first actions taken by the newly established California Sewage Works Association’s (CSWA) Board of Directors was the approval of an annual “Award of Merit” to recognize the “best maintained and operated sewage treatment plant” in California each year – thus the CSWA Award of Merit is the source of our CWEA “Plant of the Year” awards. Fittingly, the CSWA’s Award of Merit inaugural year (1929) was also the first year for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ “Academy Awards” (the “Oscars”). The reason it is fitting (besides sharing the same inaugural year) is that this article was inspired by a 1930 motion picture of the first CSWA Award of Merit facilities – the U.C. Davis Sewage Treatment Plant. Thanks to the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (LACSD) and Tom Parker, the CWEA History Committee was able to obtain a series of films highlighting treatment and collection system tours that were made as part of the 1930 CSWA spring and fall conferences. The cameraman for these films was LACSD’s future General Manager A.M. Rawn, who went on to serve as our Association president in 1936 and Federation president in 1943. While researching the 1930 spring conference films, the History Committee discovered the story of the first “Plant of the Year,” and learned how the award originated along with the story of our Association’s early leaders, CSWA past-president John Jacobson (U.C. Davis Superintendent of Construction and manager of the U.C. Davis sewage treatment plant). Origin of the California Sewage Works Association’s Award of Merit In 1930, the Association’s first Secretary-Treasurer, Edward A. Reinke, described the mission of the CSWA as “creating a new vision of sewage disposal and, by an interchange of ideas of those interested, bringing about better operation of sewage disposal plants in our state (California Sewage Works Journal, 1930, Vol. III, No. 1).” In 1929, the CSWA Board of Directors decided that an award program would help support the mission of the Association through promoting the proper operation and maintenance of sewage treatment plants, by providing information to the membership about outstanding operations and maintenance practices, inspiring plant operations and maintenance staff to improve and take pride in their facilities through the awards competition and by helping to secure the support of elected officials for funding sewage treatment plants by raising their awareness of the importance Wastewater Professional April 2014 11