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Internship Program a Win

April 26, 2017

Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) began an internship program nearly a decade ago. The intent of the program is to provide an opportunity for the development of young professionals, foster stakeholder partnerships throughout the community, and meet the needs of our organization in a cost-effective manner. MPW has engaged in these educational and community partnerships that have enhanced the water and wastewater industries body of knowledge and allowed us to address complicated environmental issues. Our interns have continued their careers with many receiving advanced degrees and obtaining a high-level of success and recognition. Internships last anywhere from 1-4 years depending on the depth of the research conducted and the organizational needs. Interns are encouraged to present their research at local and national conferences. MPW’s interns have received many awards related to their work and are recognized by leading professionals in the water and wastewater industry. Internship projects have focused on a variety of topics including emerging contaminants identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry related problems, and local water quality issues identified by South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and other environmental groups.

One of MPW’s first interns pursued a joint project between MPW, Charleston Water System (CWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to assess pharmaceuticals in treated wastewater effluent and the contributions to the environment from wastewater plants. Other intern projects have focused on background microbiological contamination in stormwater ponds in the Mount Pleasant area. Some of the research done by MPW’s interns has been used in identifying bacteriological background contamination with SCDHEC and as baseline data in the Shem Creek watershed. In partnership with the Charleston Waterkeeper, one of MPW’s identified sources of bacterial contributions to Upper Inlet Creek, a tidal creek adjacent to Mount Pleasant. A class of emerging contaminants known as polybrominated flame retardants and their distribution throughout the treatment process was also been evaluated by former College of Charleston intern Jestine Deepe. After completing MPW’s internship program, Jestine took a full-time position with MPW as a Laboratory Technician. She has since taken on the role of Laboratory Director.

College of Charleston Student Kenda Connelly, chose to do her project on micro plastics removal in the wastewater treatment process. Kenda’s project has already gained recognition on the State level, where she was awarded first place for during the South Carolina Environmental Conference (SCEC) Student Poster Contest. Kenda will go on to present her project at the National Water Environment Federation Conference this fall in Chicago.  

These opportunities have led students on a variety of career paths including PhD programs, leadership positions in the water and wastewater field, engineering programs, and other advanced positions related to scientific research. The program has enabled MPW to stay at the forefront of industry specific research and tap into the talent that local Universities provide all while accomplishing our mission to provide Clean Water today and in the future.

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