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City now has certified water plant personnel

More than four years ago, Jennifer Donohue began working toward one goal – to become Ironton’s first licensed water filtration plant operator.

Thursday, October 26, 2000

More than four years ago, Jennifer Donohue began working toward one goal – to become Ironton’s first licensed water filtration plant operator.

She met that goal earlier this month.

The Ironton water superintendent now has an Environmental Protection Agency class four license, the highest attainable rating for such licenses.

"It’s been a long process to get the class four license," Mrs. Donohue said. "The EPA now recognizes me as the certified operator of this plant and I am now qualified to sign off on the monthly test reports we are required to submit to them. I am the first to run this plant and have a class four."

Mrs. Donohue was hired in March 1996 to supervise the plant, but EPA requirements mandate potential candidates to hold a supervising position before they issue a license, she said.

"Each plant is rated depending on several factors such as the source of water and population," she said. "This plant is classified as a class four plant and whoever is the ‘responsible-charge’ operator has to have a class four license.

"To get that license, it requires two years of supervisory experience with a class three or four plant, so I had to wait two years before I could receive the certification. Following the wait, I had to fill out an application and wait for approval."

During the two-year wait, the city was required to obtain a certified operator who was recognized by the EPA to oversee Mrs. Donohue’s operation, Mayor Bob Cleary said.

"The city had to hire and pay Sam Sutherland from the Portsmouth water plant $600 a week to coordinate with Jennifer in overseeing our facility," Cleary said. "Her new certification has been a long time getting here. The additional money we had to pay Sam has been an added burden to the water department."

Cleary said the contract Sutherland operated under paid him $31,000 per year to finalize all reports that needed to be sent to the EPA on a monthly basis.

"We will now be able to terminate that contract and free up that money," he said. "The city water has been in total compliance with EPA regulations ever since she’s been overseeing the plant. She’s had a tremendous responsibility keeping the plant within the constantly-changing guidelines, and we’re real excited she has made this achievement."

And, the new certification will mean a small pay raise for Mrs. Donohue, Cleary added.

"There are not that many class four operators in Ohio," he said. "She will receive a raise of approximately $4,300 because of her qualifications. The city’s water has been in good hands since Jennifer has been on board."