President’s Message:  Unprecedented Times 

Greetings to my fellow wastewater colleagues!  On these first days of spring we are likely all hoping for some dry, sunny weather.  Snow melt and spring rains bring high flows to many of our treatment facilities as a result of inflow and infiltration to our collection systems.  This can pose significant challenges to operations.  Many of you are likely wearing your meteorologist hat as frequently as your operator hat this time of the year.  Very saturated soils going into winter will certainly make the impact of spring rains more visible to our treatment plant flows.

In addition to ordinary spring high flow challenges, we are all dealing with a much more unique and significant event that none of us have ever experienced before.  COVID 19 has certainly impacted us all and has created scenarios that challenge our traditional methods of thinking and operations.  Terms such as social distancing have become part of our daily discussions.  Many facilities are making significant adjustments to their staffing plans, allowing staff to work from home if possible, reducing operating crews, creating separation, minimizing exposure, and developing emergency operations plans to assure critical functions of the treatment facilities can remain in operation despite the pandemic.  These unprecedented times have created unprecedented decisions such as cancellation of many gatherings and events.  WWOA, like many other organizations has been faced with some difficult decisions to cancel all events until mid June.  The WWOA Board of Directors will continue to monitor the situation and determine if events after that date will be safe to hold.  As an organization, our top priority right now is to be certain we do not create a situation that would put operators’ health and well-being at risk.  As key staff operating critical infrastructure in each of our communities, there has never been a time more important than now to keep everyone healthy.  Everyone should take great pride in their role working for a public health organization.  The role every operator plays right now is just as critical to maintain public health as police, fire, and health care workers. 

These challenging times are offering us all an opportunity to evaluate effective methods of communication.  I’m certain many of you now rely much more heavily on email, phone calls, teleconferences, and video calls than you ever imagined.  I would like to predict we will all come out of this pandemic situation with new skills that we never had before.  Some of these skills may prove to be quite effective for the future.  We need to remain strong, work together, and take all possible precautions to keep ourselves, our families, and our coworkers healthy.  Your health is now critical to protecting our most valuable resource, water.  Take time each day to focus on your wellness, both physical and mental.  Seek the help from your employee assistance program or counselor if needed.  Our communities are depending on us more now than ever before.

Despite the nation-wide pandemic and the situation we are all currently facing, the WWOA Board is continuing efforts to plan another great annual conference to be held this year at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells October 20-23.  Exhibitor registration is currently open, and registration will open for attendees by early summer.  We hope you will be able to join us for the conference.

Best wishes, stay safe, and stay healthy,


Jeff Smudde

Back to the Listing