After originally hiring in to the water department as a draftsman in 1954, specifically to bring up to date the city drawings detailing water main locations, Sutliff remained long after the drawings were completed.
Emmett stayed on to learn a new trade, foreign to his draftsman training. He worked his way through the years and ranks, working all the jobs in the filtration plant, earning the respect of fellow water works and health department officials throughout the state. When Emmett had a problem, he called on people from around the state to help solve it. By the same token, health department officials and other water works supervisors called him when they ran into trouble. He brought experience and on-the-job knowledge to the plant. His peers recognized his expertise on several occasions.
In 1984, Sutliff was awarded the George Warren Fuller Award, and honor bestowed on only one water works employee in Indiana per year. This award is given by the Indiana division of the American Water Works Association for “sound engineering skill, brilliant diplomatic talent and the constructive leadership of men”. Sutliff was also the recipient of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Hurty Service Award for 25 years of service to the water department.
"His accomplishments speak well for any individual, and the fact that Emmett accomplished all this from a wheelchair was a credit to him," said his director. Emmett was stricken with polio in 1952 and was confined to a wheelchair. But his director noted that Emmett drove himself to work, and the plant which is equipped with elevators, made no special provisions for the man in charge. “I don’t consider myself to be handicapped,” said Sutliff, “I do everything I can and I realize I have limitations just like everybody else.”
At age 62, Emmett was contemplating retirement in three years, but his director had told Sutliff he could stay on until he was 80 if he wanted to. “The experience that he brought to this plant was invaluable. There was not one problem that could arise that Emmett hadn’t seen and solved before,” he said.
Emmett Sutliff passed away, but the impact he made in the water treatment field remains. His memory lives on in the giving of the “Emmett Sutliff Award” by the West Shore Water Producers Association. This award is given to a nominee who exhibits those values which Emmett believed in; dedication, loyalty, and unselfish giving to improve the industry.______________________________________________________________________________OFFICIAL NOMINATION FORM - BELOW