#ELGL Knope Award

We lost the battle but won the war.

A big THANK YOU to all who voted for Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility for the Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Knope Award.  Unfortunately, we did not collect enough votes to take down the water tank.   

From an original pool of 85 nominations, we battled in a March Madness bracket-style competition driven by online voting.  We collected enough votes to beat a facility in Corvallis, OR, an aquarium in Virginia Beach, VA, the KY Florence Y'all Water Tower, and a lake and park in Lenexa, KS.  Unfortunately, the Winston-Salem Sides Road Water Tank, a combination of water service and public art, bested Athens in the final Championship bracket. 

Our community came together to share posts, contact family & friends, eat waffles, research water bears, meet Li'l Sheepastian, learn about water reclamation, and cast 8,572 votes for our essential water services.  We caught up with old friends & made new acquaintances, all dependent on water and reminding us we can make the world a smaller place when we come together. That is a win in our book. Thank you, Athens.

What makes Cedar Creek special and worthy of your votes?  

Besides being the coziest of the three water reclamation facilities in Athens, here are a few more bits that give this facility personality:

  • Treats up to 4 million gallons of collected water a day
  • Nestled on 40 acres within 500 acres of a serene, wooded landscape
  • Home to water bears, rotifers, amoebas, ciliates, paramecium, and billions of other cute microorganisms (cute is in the eye of the beholder)
  • A large solar array on-site creates green energy
  • Sheep are frequent visitors to mow the grass beneath the solar panels
  • Hundreds of school children visit the facility to learn about how we treat the collected water
  • Dedicated staff are on hand 24/7 to treat our water to a high quality before returning it to the source, protecting our environment, water sources, the downstream communities, and the people of Athens
  • Don't believe us?  Watch the video to the right and see for yourself!

Mystery of the Flush Challenges

To make our quest for the ELGL Knope award more engaging, we encouraged people to take on a Mystery of the Flush Challenge, with new challenges being added each week.  The journey may have ended for our award efforts, but for many, the Mystery of the Flush still continues.  Follow along the path of water after it is flushed from homes and businesses and arrives at our facility.   

Take on a challenge and share it with us.  With your permission, we will add your photo/video to our page of completed missions & share on social media. 

  • Week One Challenges - It Starts with a Flush... the water is flushed down drains to begin its adventure 
    • In the Beginning: Take a photo of water being flushed down the drain, toilet, sink, or any other way it enters our sewer collection system
    • Be a Poophead: Make a poop emoji hat & snap a pic of yourself in your fashionable headgear
    • Do You Have a Blue Loo?:  The less water that enters the sewer system, the less wear and tear on our system.  Show us a video or photo of you checking your toilet for leaks using blue food coloring or dye tablets.
    • Fit for a King: Turn your toilet into a "porcelain throne" fit for a king or queen & share a pic
    • Pump it Up: Snap a photo of a septic hauling truck or port-a-potty - Cedar Creek WRF removes the water from this waste, too!  Isn't this place amazing?!?
  • Week Two Challenges - The Magic Begins... the water enters the facility & goes through the screening process to remove the items that should NOT be flushed 
    • It's A Sign: Take a photo by the Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility sign at 4100 Barnett Shoals Road
    • You're How Old?: Obtain a coin of any denomination from 2011, the year the new & improved Cedar Creek WRF opened for "business"
    • Can You "Defind" That?: Find the definition of "reclamation" in the dictionary & share a pic
    • Juggle the TP: Video yourself juggling three (or 4?) rolls of toilet paper. TP is one of the 4 Ps of Flushing. Only flush Pee, Poo, Paper (that's TP!), & Puke
  • Week Three Challenges - Meet the Microorganisms... the water enters the aeration basin where hungry little microorganisms get to work eating the waste - YUM!
    • Cutest. Microorganism. Ever.: Draw a picture of a water bear, the most awesome of all the microorganisms, then take a picture & share it with us
    • Treat Yo' Self: The microorganisms are doing the heavy lifting (or is that removing?) now, so take a moment to live like Donna & Tom from Parks & Recreation and snap a photo as you treat yo' self to some relaxation or indulgence
    • Sure is Tiny: You can't see a microorganism without a microscope - Find a microscope & take a picture of it
    • The Floor is an Aeration Basin: Take a video of you crossing the aeration basin-floor using household objects to avoid stepping on the rotifers, ciliates, protozoa,  paramecium, and bacteria hard at work removing waste from the water
  • Week Four Challenges - Time to Chill...the water moves into the clarifying basin where it is allowed to rest and the "sludge" sinks to the bottom for removal - so close to the finish!
    • Shake it Up:  Grab a bottle of vinaigrette salad dressing and take a photo/video of you shaking it up. See the bits floating in the mixture? This is similar to how the water enters the clarifying basin from the aeration basin. When the herbs of your dressing settle back down, analogous to when the sludge settles to the bottom of our tank. (Sorry if this ruins vinaigrette salad dressing for you.)
    • Put on your Jammies:  We are letting the water rest, so snap a photo of you in your PJs.  (Remember, this is a family-friendly challenge!)
    • Bed-head:  Show us your bed-head hair!  The bottom of the clarifying basin is the "bed" where the microorganisms rest, so let us see your wild wake-up hair.   
    • Meet Li'l Sheepastian: Sheep mow beneath the solar panels at Cedar Creek WRF.  Parks and Recreation had Li'l Sebastian; we have our own Li'l Sheepastian.  Woolly want to complete this challenge?  Snap a photo of ewe with a sheep.   
  • Week Five Challenges - It's Just Water...the water moves through the UV treatment &  clean water is returned back to the source
    • Time to Shine:  Put on the sunglasses!  The water travels through UV light for disinfection.  Share a photo of yourself in your cool shades.
    • It's Just Water:  We remove the waste & all that remains is just clean water.  No wastewater here! It flows to the next community who pulls it out & treats it for drinking water.  Snap a pic of you drinking a tall, cool glass of clean tap water.
    • That's a Bright Idea: We have rows of UV bulbs to treat the water.  Have a friend snap a shot of yourself standing under a light bulb as if coming up with as brilliant an idea as UV treatment.
    • Cedar Creek Water Waffle Reclamation Facility:  Leslie Knope, the namesake of this award and of Parks and Recreation fame, has a favorite food: WAFFLES!  We think waffles are the breakfast of championship rounds, so show us your waffle!  

Take a peek at the magic of Cedar Creek WRF:

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ELGL’s mission is to engage the brightest minds in local government by providing timely and relevant content through podcasts, blogs, webinars, social media, and conference gatherings, with the objective of fostering authentic and meaningful connections that are grounded in practices of equity and inclusion.