Palm Coast - Palm Coast Utility Department's national-champion "Water Buoys" team won its 13th Top Ops State Championship on Tuesday, winning the title after a hard-fought contest against two other water treatment teams from around Florida.

Team members Fred Greiner, Tom Martens, Robert Nelson and Peter Roussell (coach) correctly answered more questions than any other team competing at the annual Florida Water Resource Conference (FWRC) in Tampa. FWRC is a joint conference of the American Water Works Association, The Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA), and the Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association (FWPCOA).

Questions in this competition covered a broad range of operational topics including basic science, chemistry, hydrology, water distribution, public health and sanitation, plant maintenance, safety and process control. The annual contest recognizes and promotes excellence in all aspects of water operations, giving operators the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and talents. The Palm Coast team has won the state championship for 13 of the past 15 years.

"The water buoys Top Ops team made me believe once again that hard work and coordination can accomplish anything. I'm really proud to be part of the team," said Roussell, Palm Coast Utility Systems Manager of Water Operation. "The competition covers all technical aspects of water treatment. The purpose of the competition is to recognize and promote excellence and professionalism in all aspects of water operations. The team is dedicated and driven. This type of dedication benefits the citizens of Palm Coast by having a better, more-motivated and highly trained operating staff for the City's water treatment plants."

The Top Ops Team will compete for the top national honors at the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE) to be held in Denver in June. Since 2005, the Water Buoys have won the national competition seven times.

The Florida Section of the AWWA awards expense-paid trips to the winners of the state competition, so no City funds will be used toward the national competition. Team members pay for the competition out of their own pockets and then receive financial reimbursement from the Florida Section.

The opportunity to attend the conference, and even practice for the competition, has a major pay-off for the Palm Coast community, Roussell said.

"The educational aspects of Top Ops cannot be understated," Roussell said. "The Water Buoys study relevant technical manuals and practice for the competition all year long. The team members then try and impart their knowledge to the rest of the operations staff. I feel like our operators are among the best educated in our field."

For more information, please contact Peter Roussell, City of Palm Coast Utility Systems Manager of Water Operations, at 386-986-2374