By Echo Menges
During a special meeting of the Edina City Council on Monday evening, November 18, 2013, Edina’s Wastewater Superintendent of 15 years, Brad Eitel, submitted his resignation to the city after accepting the Utility Supervisor position at the City of Kirksville in Adair County. Eitel’s last day working for the City of Edina and overseeing Edina’s Wastewater Treatment Facility will be Friday, November 29, 2013.
This comes as bittersweet news to community members and city officials as Eitel has been a vital resource to Edina’s infrastructure for many years, several of whom have said how happy they are for Brad and his family while being saddened that Edina is losing one of her highly valued assets.
It is thanks in large to Eitel and his work with the Edina City Council that Edina’s Wastewater Treatment Facility is outperforming wastewater treatment facilities throughout the region and is way ahead of the curve in keeping Edina’s facility compliant with DNR and EPA regulations, no doubt something the City of Kirksville had in mind while aggressively perusing him to help oversee the construction of and to eventually run their new multimillion dollar wastewater treatment facility, which is projected to cost upwards of 14 million dollars.
Eitel, who is a native of Northeast Missouri and still lives in his hometown of LaPlata, got his start at the City of Kirksville in 1980, two years after graduating from the LaPlata R-2 High School, when he accepted a mechanic job. He moved up the ladder to a supervisory position with the City of Kirksville over eight years time and in 1988 he was approached about applying for an open wastewater operator position at the Kirksville wastewater facility.
According to Eitel, he started that position as the “low man on the totem pole” and learned everything he could about operating the facility. He left Kirksville’s wastewater facility briefly in 1992 for his first Wastewater Superintendent job at Premium Standard Farms in Milan, but before the year had ended Kirksville came calling and he was hired as the city’s Wastewater Superintendent, a position he held until 1998 when he took the job in Edina as Wastewater Superintendent.
Now, 15 years later, Kirksville is calling on Eitel again to assist them with the massive overhaul of their entire ailing wastewater system.
“They pursued me to run the new facility which is going to come online in late 2015 or 2016,” said Eitel. “The main reasons I’m going are the appeal of the new wastewater plant, the financial benefits to me and my family and the betterment of my career. It’s going to be a challenge and it will make me be better at what I do in a field I still learn from every single day because it’s constantly changing.”
While working in Edina Eitel has improved Edina’s facility to the degree that in 2001 it was awarded the “System of the Year Award” for the Northeast section of Missouri by the Missouri Wastewater Conference (MWWC), in 2007 it was awarded the “Wastewater System of the Year Award” for the entire state by the Missouri Rural Water Association and the same year Eitel was awarded the “Operator of the Year Award” for the Northeast section of the state by MWWC.
Also, Eitel has kept Edina in the good graces of DNR and the EPA by keeping the plant well within DNR and EPA regulations and staying abreast of coming regulations all while being one of Northeast Missouri’s most relied upon resources of knowledge where wastewater treatment facilities are concerned.
In 2011 Eitel expanded his lab at the Edina facility and began testing the amount of Fecal Chloroform and E. Coli particulates being released into the state waterways by wastewater treatment facilities, in-house, not only for the City of Edina but also for over a dozen communities neighboring Edina. The practice has been bringing Edina a small profit, which was once a significant expense because before Eitel began performing the tests Edina and many other communities had to transport their samples to another lab in Columbia.
“It will be up to the new superintendent and the communities on whether to continue with it,” said Eitel. “I highly advise that they do to help our neighboring communities stay in compliance.”
“He really knows his plant, can tell when something is on its last legs and always has a plan to get the problem fixed,” said Edina Mayor Davey Strickler. “Before Brad came along it seemed the council was always faced with a crisis or an impending catastrophe. He put a stop to that. He’s active in the wastewater association, talks to everyone, keeps up with what’s going on and knows what’s coming down the pipe as far as upcoming regulations. That’s been very good for the people of Edina. Another thing that makes me really proud to work with him is that any town having a problem anywhere near us can call Brad and he’s always done what he could to help them because that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s been ‘Johnny on the Spot’ for many years and has been a good man to have all the way around. He’s going to be missed.”
Eitel’s mark on the Edina Wastewater Facility will continue to be felt for a long time. Over the past several years he has worked diligently with the Edina City Council to ensure needed upgrades, replacements and repairs have been made or are on schedule to be made within the next year which, according to Eitel, will, once complete, add decades to the life of the facility.
“This plant was state-of-the-art when it was built in 1984 and is still state-of-the-art,” said Eitel. “The new Kirksville facility will be a lot like the one here. It is based on the same principals as Edina’s. Same microorganisms. Same style of treatment. Much larger scale.”
Eitel has been running Edina’s wastewater facility solo for well over a decade doing everything himself from particulate testing to mowing the lawn and everything in between. The role he’ll be taking on in Kirksville will be quite different and more of a management position where he’ll oversee a staff, which he expects will take some getting used to though he’s looking forward to the challenge. He’s also excited for the opportunity to help Kirksville get and stay ahead of the curve, like he’s been able to do for Edina. His first day as Kirksville’s new Utility Supervisor will be December 2, 2013.
On the recommendation of Eitel Mayor Strickler has appointed Edina’s Superintendent of Utilities, Mike Wriedt, who currently holds a Class B wastewater operator’s license, as the interim Wastewater Superintendent for Edina and the Mayor has also appointed Allen Ives to take over Wriedt’s duties as the interim Superintendent of Utilities for the city. The council has decided to advertise and accept applications for both positions until 4:00 p.m. on December 9, 2013, which is also the day of the next regularly scheduled Edina City Council meeting.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my 15 years here with the city and this community. I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful people through the Knox County Ball Association over the years too,” said Eitel. “I just can’t say enough about what a great community this is or how much I’m going to miss it.”