PAs retirement approaches, and I think back thru the years, My memory keeps returning to a firm of engineers. Their home was near Corvallis, out a half-mile or more, And hurrying feet had beaten a path up to their office door. The plants of their design were all of a simple classic art, But in the field of wastewater, they played a leading part. The plants they built were loaded with equipment, old and new, Blowers, mixers, air diffusers, and chlorinators too. Pumps and valves and heat controls, and lab glassware galore, Computerized control boards, and gadgets by the score. The finished plant was always something wondrous to behold, With all the engineering goodies its structures did enfold. But what marred all this perfection and drove operators berserk, Was when the fateful day came to make the darn thing work. A wrong sized pipe connection leaked all over the place, And that wasn’t fresh strawberries the sludge pump blew in your face. A heating coil would ice up, and a blower wouldn’t blow, And lights on the control panel all said “stop” when they meant “go”. A gas valve would be turned on, and water would come out, While from the supernatant pipe the old methane would spout. A grit removal chamber should have been five times larger, And you simply cannot pump sludge through a sparger. And try to picture if you can, the operator’s frustration, When from his pH meter he heard a local radio station. So it was not uncommon to hear an anguished wail, “I sometimes most devoutly wish we’d kept the old Chic Sale.” But just when a harassed operator was about to flip his lid, One day he’d get a visit from Ralph, Fred or Sid. Or perhaps Carl or Dick or John or Gene or Elmer would appear. And to an old sludge shoveler they’d lend advice and cheer. They’d turn off this and cut off that, they’d get their slide rule out, And almost before you knew it, the “bugs” were put to rout. They’d get the plant to working and looking spic and span, And they’d leave the operator a wiser, happier man. Well, so much for my memories, I’ve been around a bit, And with both good and bad folk, it’s been my lot to sit. But if it was in my power to turn back the clock again, I’d like to relive a few hours with the boys of CH2M.

By Ted King on the occasion of his retirement as chief operator Springfield, Oregon Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Names mentioned: Ralph (Roderick), Fred (Merryfield), Sid (Lasswell), Carl (Ryden), Dick (Humphrey), John (Filbert), Gene (Suhr), Elmer (Seegmueller)