BRATTLEBORO -- As part of the statewide Water Quality Day on Friday, the water treatment plants in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls will be hosting open houses.

The Brattleboro Wastewater Treatment Facility is located at 340 Riverside Drive and the Bellows Falls is located at 80 Mill Street. Both will be open between from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Gov. Peter Shumlin recently issued a proclamation declaring Friday, May 23, as "Water Quality Day" in Vermont. In recognition, Green Mountain Water Environment Association and affiliated organizations are highlighting the importance of wastewater treatment and water quality to the daily health and well-being of Vermonters.

Bruce Lawrence, chief operator of the Brattleboro plant, said there will be guided tours starting at 9 a.m. and every hour thereafter.

"People will be able to see how the whole system works, all the way from raw sewage to the clean water we pump into the river," said Lawrence. "They'll be able to see our rotary press taking the digested sludge, squeezing the water out and making dry cake."

David Mears, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, will kick off Water Quality Day on Friday at 9 a.m. at the Montpelier wastewater treatment facility with a brief talk to high school students from Northfield and others attending the open house.

GMWEA President Bob Fischer, head of the Montpelier facility, stated there is nothing so critical as water quality.

"And there is nothing more effective in protecting it than the mostly hidden infrastructure and work being done at wastewater treatment plants. We invite everyone to visit a facility and learn more."

Wastewater treatment plants are an important part of the discussions on climate change, sustainability, energy efficiency, and recycling. Some treatment plants, such as the ones in Brattleboro and Essex Junction, are even generating renewable power while recycling water, nutrients, and organic matter.

Vermont's 90 facilities collectively treat 48.5 million gallons of wastewater daily, returning clean water to rivers and lakes and safely managing the resulting solids. Vermont recycles 29 percent of its biosolids, but that number is expected to increase as more Chittenden County area solids are treated and land applied in upstate New York.