Lawrence's efforts to treat sewage are among the most environmentally friendly in the country, according to a new award that the Environmental Protection Agency bestowed on the city Tuesday evening.
The city's wastewater utility operations became the first publicly owned treatment plant in the Midwest to be recognized as a member of the National Environmental Performance Track Program.
John Askew, director of the Region 7 EPA office in Kansas City, Kan., said Lawrence was included in the program - which includes more than 500 companies and other organizations across the country - because the city went above and beyond the required regulations for the treating and handling of wastewater.
"What this says about the city's Utility Department is that it is one of the most progressive in the country," Askew said.
Jeanette Klamm, programs manager for the Utility Department, said the city's wastewater plant does use a more rigorous treatment process than is required by law. It also has created a biosolids program that allows area farmers to use a treated by-product of the treatment process as a fertilizer for their farm fields. That program previously has been nationally recognized as a unique recycling program that cuts down on disposal and fuel costs.
"I think what the department has done is to make a really conscious effort to be environmentally friendly and to be good stewards," Klamm said.