Hannah Seats has always had a mind for science and math. "I'm kind of nerdy," she admits. However, Hannah's scientific mind benefits the city tremendously as she directs the city's award-winning laboratory, ensuring that the city complies with strict state guidelines for wastewater treatment. "Our wastewater is almost cleaner than our drinking water," she shares. "That's important to our city and our state because the wastewater is what ends up in our streams and waterways," she said.
Hannah's route to the city began in Francesville where she grew up. Then she earned a degree in Chemistry and Pre-Medicine from Ball State University. She started with the city part-time before joining the laboratory staff full-time in 2012 and was promoted to Lab Director in the fall of 2014. Her four-person staff constantly tests the city's wastewater quality 365 days a year informing the operations staff when adjustments need to be made. Heavy rains can quickly affect the wastewater chemistry, so Hannah keeps a close eye on the weather forecast to make sure she is adequately staffed for impending rains.
The city's lab also monitors the pre-treatment equipment for 120 city restaurants, 50 doctors' offices, 30 dental offices, 20 auto care facilities, and 13 car washes to safeguard the quality of the city's wastewater before it reaches waterways. "We follow strict state guidelines. We have someone here every single day and we prepare lots of reports needed to remain in compliance," Hannah explains.
Hannah likes to call Valparaiso "the big city," because it is much larger than her hometown of Francesville, Indiana, population 879. "Most people think of Chicago as 'the city', but to me, Valpo is big," she confides with a smile.