The Sheboygan Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) celebrated Public Works Week by opening its facility to the public on May 20.  The Sheboygan team was impressed with the turn out and the comments received by the public.  It is easy for us in the industry to take our work for granted and not give the credit and acknowledgement we deserve for the complex and technical work we do each day as we recover and preserve our most valuable resource, WATER.  I was reminded of how amazing our work really is when the public toured and were in awe of what actually happens to the water and waste that is flushed down the drain.  It simply doesn’t go down the drain and disappear.  The wastewater is collected, pumped, screened, settled, treated by microscopic organisms, filtered, disinfected, and returned to the local body of water cleaner than the existing stream or lake.  Nutrients are recovered from the waste and returned to the land to enrich crops which provide food for our tables.  Not only are we preserving our WATER, we are reclaiming the nutrients necessary for human and plant growth.

The Sheboygan Regional WWTF provides a good example of such nutrient reuse right on the facility grounds.  One section of lawn which has received several applications of dried biosolids is much more lush and rich than the control side that has received no biosolids.  These nutrient collection and recovery processes take a community of dedicated professionals who come from diverse backgrounds and incorporate multiple disciplines and skills including collection system specialists, operations, maintenance, metal fabrication, electrical, process controls, computer programing, watershed managers, soil scientists, haulers and land applicators, biogas specialists, natural science, engineering, manufacturing, regulatory, and administration.

In my President’s Message in the April 2017 Clarifier edition, I proposed that the Wisconsin Wastewater Operator’s Association thinks about adopting a new name which reflects the evolution of the wastewater industry.  Those of us in the industry all understand treating wastewater and discharging cleaner water to the receiving body.  We have been treating wastewater to secondary treatment standards for over 45 years.  We have also been recovering energy and nutrients and returning the nutrients to the farm fields for over a hundred years.  Today we are treating the wastewater, recovering the nutrients, harnessing the energy, and producing environmentally beneficial products better and in a more efficient and sustainable manner than ever before.  The Wisconsin Wastewater Operator’s Association is composed of members who are involved in different aspects of collecting and treating wastewater, recovering resources, and reclaiming water.  It is important that the name of an organization encompasses all of its members and adequately represents the entire field to continue to attract new members and to grow.

To celebrate our members’ work, the theme for the Wisconsin Wastewater Operators’ Association’s 51st Annual Conference is Recovery Resources.  The Board of Director’s purple shirts this year are displaying the Resource Recovery theme.  In April, the WWOA Board of Directors voted to introduce a new tag line, Wisconsin Resource Recovery Specialists (WRRS), to celebrate the theme.  Any change to WWOA’s name will require membership approval at an Annual Business Meeting and the appropriate revision to the Articles of Incorporation.

Registration is now open for the 51st WWOA Annual Conference.  Vice President, Jeff (Juice) Simpson, and the Technical Committee have worked hard to organize a successful conference.  The conference lineup is packed with technical presentations and workshops, fun social events, the Operator’s Competition, and the Annual Business Meeting and Awards Banquet.  Please check out the WWOA website for registration and lodging information.  This year’s Keynote Speaker is LeRoy Butler, the star strong safety for our beloved Green Bay Packers and originator of the Lambeau Leap.  The Farewell Breakfast will feature a presentation by one of our own WWOA Members, Greg Paul.  You definitely will not want to miss Greg’s talk on The Gut Bug Connection which will highlight the similarities between our human digestive system and wastewater treatment.

This spring has been packed with educational WWOA Regional meetings, seminars, and educational opportunities.  Hopefully you were able to attend one of the meetings and will be able to attend one or more of the upcoming events. 

The sunshine and blue skies of spring get me energized to bicycle and play volleyball.  I will miss my annual bicycle trek across Kansas this year but my young nephews will keep me active with all their sports and will make sure I do not miss taking them for bicycle rides.  They are already asking when they can do a 100 mile bike ride! 

I also want to take this time to give a special thank you to the Sheboygan Regional WWTF staff for their support and continued efforts to optimize operations.  The Sheboygan team is composed of incredibly talented, skilled, and dedicated individuals who work daily to preserve water and recover resources in the most efficient manner possible.  It has been a true honor to work with them.  I will miss the staff at Sheboygan as I look forward to new opportunities and joining the NEW Water team this summer.

WATER is our resource to protect, renew, and share!

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