Maine Water Resource Recovery District Takes an Interactive Approach to Education

October 7, 2015

Featured, Multimedia, Uncategorized

The Brunswick (Maine) Sewer District is keeping customers informed by using an interactive poster that allows the public to scan QR codes and view video segments explaining the water treatment cycle. Photo courtesy of Brunswick Sewer District staff.

The Brunswick (Maine) Sewer District is keeping customers informed by using an interactive poster that allows the public to scan QR codes and view video segments explaining the water treatment cycle. Photo courtesy of Brunswick Sewer District staff.

The Brunswick (Maine) Sewer District has taken a proactive approach to foster an informed customer base. The district has created a poster that links customers to videos that show how water flows through the district’s systems, according to Leonard Blanchette, general manager.

The district is using this interactive education in addition to traditional public outreach efforts, such as a website, quarterly newsletter, social media, local news content, and public meetings and presentations. District staff created the interactive poster and corresponding videos to to use smart-phone technology.

“The interactive poster was designed for the ratepayers to actually see how the wastewater system works, to understand the purpose of all the pipes, manholes, pumping stations, and the treatment facility,” Blanchette said.

District staff recorded, edited, and narrated the 13-minute educational video. The video begins by showing a typical household plumbing system. Staff added animation to demonstrate how potable water travels into the home and how wastewater is carried out of the home.

Brunswick Sewer District staff recorded, edited, and narrated a 13-minute educational video that shows wastewater’s journey through the public treatment system as well as into and through the water resource recovery facility. Photo courtesy of Brunswick Sewer District staff.

Brunswick Sewer District staff recorded, edited, and narrated a 13-minute educational video that shows wastewater’s journey through the public treatment system as well as into and through the water resource recovery facility. Photo courtesy of Brunswick Sewer District staff.

The video takes viewers on wastewater’s journey through the public treatment system as well as into and through the WRRF. Video segments display various part of the district’s collection system including pipes, manholes, and pump stations. And in the WRRF, the video shows the sequential processes wastewater goes through as it’s treated in the district’s 14,572-m3/d (3.85-mgd) primary treatment and trickling-filter secondary treatment processes, Blanchette said. It ends by showing how treated water flows to the outfall and into the Androscoggin River.

The interactive poster allows members of the public to scan QR codes and view on their phones either segments or the entire video. The poster presents pictures of the district’s WRRF and all of the steps in its treatment process, as well as the QR codes.

“The poster is designed so that it can be provided to areas schools, mounted in public buildings, and [displayed] anywhere else convenient for public viewing,” Blanchette said. “We want the public to be aware and involved.”

Staff also constructed a kiosk showcasing the poster at the district’s Water Street Pumping Station. The pump station’s fence was repositioned to provide space for the kiosk as well as two benches that provide a resting spot for pedestrians and bicyclists using a nearby walking and biking path along the Androscoggin River.

The interactive poster allows members of the public to scan QR codes and view on their phones either segments or the entire video. Photo courtesy of Brunswick Sewer District staff.

The interactive poster allows members of the public to scan QR codes and view on their phones either segments or the entire video. Photo courtesy of Brunswick Sewer District staff.

Robert Pontau Jr., district assistant general manager, came up with the idea for the project, which was fully supported by the district’s Board of Trustees. He managed the project and gave staff the tools, equipment, software, and confidence needed to develop a plan, message, and script for the video, as well as to record, narrate, and edit it, Blanchette said.

“The creativity of the staff soon became apparent as this group effort became a real educational asset for the Brunswick area and the Androscoggin River,” Blanchette said. “The project showcases the quality of [district] staff and the work they do each day to operate and maintain the system.”

Blanchette recommends that other utilities interested in developing their own interactive education elements should just believe in staff and give them the tools and time needed to complete the project. “We all work hard at obtaining the most talented staff we can. Now that you have those talents, use them,” he said.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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