Water Wisdoms | November 2022 Newsletter
Remember to Protect Your Pipes This Holiday Season
The holiday season is coming, and we’re just as excited as you to see family and friends, celebrate the things we hold important, and eat some great food together! After the meal though, there are some foods that can cause problems for your drains and community wastewater pipes. Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) can cause wastewater to back up and overflow into the neighborhood or lead to costly repairs. When cooking for the holidays, remember to pour greases and fats into a container and let them harden, then throw it in the trash! For more tips on how to keep your drainage pipes flowing, visit our Pollution Prevention webpage.
Avoid a Clog, Trash the FOG!
When you think of FOG (fats, oils, and grease), the first things that probably come to mind are bacon grease or cooking oil, but you should also be wary of many other foods! Gravy, sauces, meat trimmings, soups, and dairy products also contain fatty substances that can cause buildup in your pipes. You may have heard that running hot water and soap down the drain will prevent clogs, but that’s a myth. FOG can still solidify and cause problems, whether mixed with soap or not.
New Water Quality Trading Program Will Improve River Health
After a decade of planning and pilot projects, the MWMC and The Freshwater Trust are launching the next phase of the Water Quality Trading Program! Over the next five years, the program will restore approximately 40 acres of riverbanks along the Willamette and McKenzie rivers with trees and vegetation. These efforts will help to cool the average water temperature and maintain the river's hospitable environment for native fish species, like salmon. The restorations will begin in the lower McKenzie River and expand to areas of the Middle Fork and Coast Fork Willamette watersheds. For the next 20 years, these areas will be monitored to ensure they meet the appropriate regulatory standards.
This program is a major milestone for the MWMC and helps us meet new permit requirements for temperature under the Clean Water Act. It also benefits the ecosystem through habitat creation, carbon sequestration, and aesthetically beautiful landscapes. We are thankful to our partners at The Freshwater Trust for their collaboration on this exciting project! For more information, you can visit their website here.
Meet the Team: Spencer Goodro, RNG Lead Operator
How long have you worked for City of Eugene/MWMC?
I’ve been here since 2002, so 20 years now. I started working in the water industry in Wyoming in collections and distributions. I moved to Oregon for this job as an operator. A year ago, I started working on the Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) project. I still do operations stuff as needed, but my focus has been making clean gas.

What does a typical day at work look like?
One of the major challenges here is that a “typical day” includes reviewing many complex processes and making sure they are all on target, so there’s constant evaluation of the effectiveness of what we’re doing. We also have to troubleshoot process interruptions and upsets whenever they happen. It’s everything from making sure the water is flowing to the right place, to making sure each piece of equipment is operating in the correct parameters, to being able to identify equipment failures. It’s a routine job, but each day has different challenges.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing is working with talented people, especially on this RNG (Renewable Natural Gas) project. I like to be a sponge and soak up all the information I can, so it’s really neat to see people who know what they’re doing and how to do it well. This organization is full of talented people, and I just feel lucky to take part in it.

You won an award from Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association for Operator of the Year. What significance did that hold for you?
The award represents an entire team of people who made the RNG system a successful project; I was just lucky enough to be the lead operator. But without the input from all the different groups and organizations, it never would’ve happened. MWMC had the vision and provided the resources to make sure that the vision came to fruition. It’s a great success story about what collaboration can do.

You’ve mentioned before that you love the outdoors. What are some of your favorite outdoors activities, and does interacting with the environment impact your work?
I value an environment where people can interact with the river and not worry about getting sick. I’m a boater, and even snorkeling in the river is fun. I do it for the animals too. With the way the environment is now, animals have such a hard time, all the way down to the microbes we take for granted.
I also ski and hike, and it’s great to get up in the mountains. Some of my favorite memories are camping at Waldo Lake, and I love driving the Oregon coast and going wine-tasting with my wife.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen working in the water industry?
There is all manner of unmentionables that flow into the plant that I won’t discuss here. But mostly the weirdest things happen when you physically scale up by working with such large quantities of water. I’ve seen some geysers that are really high! Most problems are unique: you’ve never experienced it before, and once you correct it, you’ll probably never experience it again. A lot of things aren’t overly dramatic; they’ll be a combination of several small, weird things creating one large, weird thing. We’ll often be working toward a solution on something, and then we’ll look at each other and say, “Wow, that was weird!”

To learn more about the MWMC and our team's work, visit our website, mwmcpartners.org.
World Toilet Day...We Celebrate That?
Yes, you read correctly, November 19th is World Toilet Day, and it’s more important than you might think. The United Nations estimates that 3.6 billion people around the globe don’t have access to adequate sewage and sanitation, including quality toilet systems. When wastewater isn’t controlled and cleaned properly, it can lead to sewage contaminating rivers, lakes, and groundwater: water we need to survive!

The MWMC is committed to providing safe, sanitary wastewater systems to our community. This holiday season, we’re thankful for something we often take for granted: the humble toilet.
Find Clean Water University Lessons Online!
We had a wonderful time hosting students, teachers, and parents for the return of Clean Water University last month! It was our first time seeing everyone for the program since 2019. If you missed the field trip this year, you can still find all our fun and educational resources here on our website! Teachers will be able to sign up to receive materials until April 30, 2023.
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