Upper Trinity Receives Two Prestigious Awards

Friday, July 17th 2020

LEWISVILLE, TX – July 17, 2020:  Upper Trinity Regional Water District’s (Upper Trinity) Northeast Water Reclamation System recently received the George W. Burke, Jr. Award from Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT).  In addition, Larry N. Patterson, Executive Director of Upper Trinity, has been recognized with WEAT’s Pillars of the Profession award for his distinguished career in the water utility industry.  Both awards were presented virtually on July 10, 2020, during a ceremony as part of Texas Water 2020.

George W. Burke, Jr. Award, established in 1983, recognizes a wastewater treatment facility based on documented and illustrated safety programs and safety records during the preceding year.  “The well-being and safety of our employees throughout Upper Trinity is, and has always been paramount,” states Jody Zabolio, Director of Operations at Upper Trinity.  Mr. Zabolio continues, “Many years ago, Upper Trinity implemented a Health and Safety Program with oversight by a Safety Committee and has recently completed a review and update of its Safety Manual.”  Proper training and proper equipment are the cornerstones of the program.

The Northeast Water Reclamation System includes the Riverbend and Doe Branch Water Reclamation Plants.  The Riverbend Plant is in the Paloma Creek community along US Hwy 380 and provides wastewater treatment services to the Town of Providence Village, Mustang Special Utility District, plus Paloma Creek.  The Doe Branch Plant is located near the Savannah community and provides wastewater treatment to the City of Celina, Town of Prosper, Mustang Special Utility District and the Artesia community.

With the recent upgrade and expansion of the Riverbend Plant, operations and maintenance employees coordinated with the Little Elm and Aubrey Fire Departments to conduct a basin rescue simulation.  This simulation was a collaborative effort to engage emergency personnel before an actual emergency took place.  Employees also participate in frequent safety meetings to communicate any field hazards or potential issues, and to cover other safety related information.  Related to the Doe Branch Plant, modifications were recently made to the clarifiers to install new mechanical cleaning systems - - a new safety net to prevent employees from falling into the weirs or the water.

Pillars of the Profession Award recognizes a member of WEAT who has demonstrated meaningful and substantial contributions toward the improvement of the water environment through a distinguished career in the water industry. Larry N. Patterson began as a Civil Engineer with the City of Dallas - Water Utilities Department (DWU) after graduating from Texas A&M University in 1972.  He quickly rose through the department ranks, serving in engineering, planning, project management and water & wastewater facilities operations.  Before retiring, Mr. Patterson’s final position at DWU was Assistant Director responsible for Wastewater Operations where he oversaw all aspects of the DWU wastewater treatment and collection systems.

In 2002, Mr. Patterson moved to Upper Trinity as its Chief Engineer in charge of planning and implementation of the District’s capital improvement projects.  As he did at DWU, Mr. Patterson steadily moved through positions of increasing responsibility leading to his appointment as Executive Director in 2018.  In this role, Mr. Patterson is responsible for the day-to-day operations and planning for Upper Trinity’s expansive water reclamation and water treatment facilities throughout Denton and Collin counties, along with the long-term vision and planning for future raw water supplies such as the state’s newest water supply reservoir Lake Ralph Hall (the first water rights permit issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in over 30 years).

In addition to his service to the water utilities industry, Mr. Patterson served in the Texas Army National Guard for 30 years receiving numerous federal and state awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit and the Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal.  Mr. Patterson concluded his military career achieving the rank of Brigadier General (Brevet); and, continues to dedicate many hours of volunteer service to our military forces through his involvement in numerous Texas veterans’ organizations including the Greater Dallas Veterans Foundation.  In recognition of his military service and support of military veterans, BG Patterson was presented the Congressional Veteran Commendation for Texas 26th Congressional District by Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D.

“We are privileged to have Larry as our Executive Director guiding the Upper Trinity Regional Water District and ensuring that all have adequate and reliable water and wastewater services, now and in the future,” stated Rich Lubke, President of Upper Trinity’s Board of Directors.  “He is a dedicated professional who has truly made a difference.”

About UTRWD Upper Trinity is a regional water district created by the Texas Legislature in 1989 for the benefit of cities and utilities in the Denton County area.  Its mandate is to develop regional plans for water services, and to provide both water and wastewater services on a wholesale basis to cities and utilities within its service area, including all of Denton County and portions of Dallas and Collin Counties.  Upper Trinity is a leader in public education regarding water conservation and water quality protection, and regularly conducts programs concerning drought tolerant landscape techniques, landscape practices and more efficient water use.

For more information, please contact Jason L. Pierce, Manager of Governmental Affairs & Communications at 972-219-1228.

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