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Harrisonburg Public Works honored with Environmental Excellence award

Wes Runion, the Environmental Specialist with Public Works, says the department received the recognition for its Bioreactor Project at Purcell Park.
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 5:32 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg Public Works department has been awarded this year’s Governor’s Environmental Excellence Gold Medal. Wes Runion, the Environmental Specialist with Public Works, says the department received the recognition for its Bioreactor Project at Purcell Park.

The Bioreactor was installed underground at the park in 2019, and is the first of its kind on the East coast. Runion says it works, by removing nitrogen from the Blacks Run waterway, as the water flows toward the Chesapeake Bay.

According to Runion, excess nitrogen in the water can cause large algae blooms to grow.

“And when they die off, they actually take up oxygen and create dead zones that kill aquatic species such as fish or any other macroinvertebrates that depend on the oxygen in the water to survive,” Runion explained.

The Public Works department says it is extremely honored to be recognized by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Runion says, the hope is that the DEQ will eventually approve more reactors like this one, at other locations throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

To view the full press release on the award, click here.

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