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News & Press: WEF News

Blue Ridge Brawlers Win the 2016 Operations Challenge Competition

Thursday, September 29, 2016  
Posted by: Kathy Rabalais

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Blue Ridge Brawlers of the Virginia Water Environment Association, pulled off a dramatic win late yesterday at the 29th annual Operations Challenge competition. The fun-filled, high-energy event took place at WEFTEC 2016—the Water Environment Federation’s 89th annual technical exhibition and conference—in New Orleans.

First place Division 1 team members Randy Williams (coach), Lacy Burnette (captain), Wayne Brown, Stephen Lofaro, and Kevin Thomasson and first place Division 2 team members Orren West (coach), Kelsey Gedge (captain), Matt Duncan, Lance Wenholz, and Josh Mallory competed against 40 hardworking teams from the U.S., Canada, and Argentina. Both teams are first time winners.

As one of the most engaging events on the exhibition floor, Operations Challenge is a unique and fast-paced test of the essential skills needed to operate and maintain wastewater treatment facilities, their collection systems, and laboratories—all vital to the protection of public health and the environment. 

Over the course of nearly three decades, Operations Challenge has steadily grown from the original 22-team event to this year’s 42-team, two-division format. Teams are judged on the best combination of precision, speed, and safety. The winners are determined by a weighted point system for five events including collection systems, laboratory, maintenance, safety, and process control, which was enhanced this year by new modeling software from Hydromantis. 

Winners in both divisions include:

Division 1
First Place: Blue Ridge Brawlers
Virginia Water Environment Association 
Western Virginia Water Authority, Roanoke, Va. 

Second Place: Motley Poo
Chesapeake Water Environment Association
Maryland Environmental Service, Millersville, Md. 

Third Place: L.A. Wrecking Crew
California Water Environment Association 
Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Carson, Calif. 

Division 2
First Place: Elevated Ops
Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association
Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, Denver, Colo. 

Second Place: Wasatch All-Stars
Water Environment Association of Utah
Composite team from Northern Utah 

Third Place: TRA Waste Warriors 
Water Environment Association of Texas
Trinity River Authority, Dallas, Texas  

About WEF
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 33,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment. As a global water sector leader, our mission is to connect water professionals; enrich the expertise of water professionals; increase the awareness of the impact and value of water; and provide a platform for water sector innovation. 

WEFTEC 2016, the Water Environment Federation’s 89th Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, will be held Sept. 24-28, 2016 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La. The world’s largest annual water quality event provides the latest developments, technologies, and services for water preservation, restoration, and sustainability. To learn more, visit 

TWITTER: @WEFTEC, #WEFTEC16, #OpsChallenge 

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