Parker Newbanks earns clean water industry award

24-year ERWSD employee selected for WY, NM, and CO region

24-year employee, Parker Newbanks, earned RMWEA’s 2020 WEF William D. Hatfield Award


The Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association (RMWEA) recently honored Parker Newbanks with the 2020 Water Environment Federation (WEF) William D. Hatfield Award. Newbanks is the supervisor of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment facility in Edwards.

The Hatfield Award is presented to operators of wastewater treatment plants for outstanding performance and professionalism. Newbanks’s “sterling compliance record” while “operator in responsible charge” of the Edwards facility was one of his achievements noted at the award presentation. He was also recognized for pioneering the Autothermal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion (ATAD) process installed at the Edwards facility to treat solids, and eventually optimizing it into a reliable, consistent solids handling process. The ATAD process yields a Class A, high quality pathogen-free biosolids product that is available to the public, free of charge, for landscaping use.

Biosolids, and its less technical cousin, composting, is near and dear to Newbanks. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in Earth Science from the University of Northern Colorado, Newbanks started his career with the district in September 1996 to do compost facility operations. The compost operations evolved and so, too, did Newbanks.

He is quick to credit the district for his progression. “The district has supported me through all these years,” he says, “its commitment to professional development allowed me to earn my wastewater operator certifications and prepared me to take on different roles and challenges over the years.” Newbanks has been a certified compost operator since 1997, a Class A wastewater operator – Colorado’s highest level of treatment classification – since 2001; and became the supervisor of the Edwards wastewater treatment facility in 2009. After 24 years, he remains connected to his first position at the district as he is also the biosolids coordinator, overseeing the highly technical ATAD process.

Newbanks has managed multiple expansions, treatment process upgrades, and capital projects at the Edwards facility through continuous around-the-clock operations. “Running a wastewater treatment facility, there’s science to it but there’s also an art to it,” he said. “I’ve spent my whole career in Edwards. It’s really humbling to get this award from the industry. For an organization like RMWEA to award this to me, it’s an honor.”

Parker Newbanks explains facility operations during an open house at the Edwards wastewater treatment facility.

The Hatfield award was created by the Water Environment Federation, a nearly 100-year-old not-for-profit technical and educational organization of water quality professionals around the world. WEF’s member associations present the award to a wastewater operator in the member association’s region. For Newbanks, RMWEA selected him from its Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming region.

Being selected from among his regional peers means a lot to Newbanks. “We all do this work because we care deeply about the environment and where we are and where we live,” he stated. Working along the banks of the Eagle River in Edwards, Newbanks says, “we put clean water in the river every day.” “It’s so important,” he continued, “this place where we are. It’s a great place to raise my family.”

Given the complexity and changing nature of wastewater operations, Newbanks values the role that industry organizations such as WEF and RMWEA play, which provide its’ members with current information on water quality issues, technology, regulatory changes, and the latest research developments. And he appreciates that the district encourages its employees to connect with the industry and be progressive in such a challenging and ever-evolving field. He concluded, “The people in the industry, and the district, are first class.”