Presidents Message:  The “Now Normal”

Greetings to my fellow wastewater colleagues!  As I’m writing this message just a few days before the official calendar start of summer, I hope all of you have already had a chance to start enjoying the nice weather and some outdoor recreation.  Once again this spring, Wisconsin has received several very large, intense rainfall events which seem to have become more the norm.  This is certainly a sign that weather patterns have changed, and we should all evaluate our interceptor systems and treatment facilities to make sure they are resilient to these types of events, so we are all prepared for the future. 

As everyone is aware, the COVID 19 pandemic has certainly impacted all of our lives over the past several months, and will most likely continue to until a vaccination is available and widely distributed.  More local businesses and restaurants are reopening, but often with new restrictions including reduced capacities, social distancing, mask wearing, etc.  This is a great time for all of us to demonstrate our flexibility and adaptability to change.  So often, I hear people talking about wanting to get back to “normal”, or even “the new normal”.  I would like to encourage everyone to live in the present and focus on what I’ve heard referenced as the “Now Normal” we are all living in.  I think it’s quite unrealistic to expect that everything will return to what it was prior to the pandemic.  Certain precautionary measures may become common practices.  Will plexiglass panels installed in many retail stores ever be removed?  Will the increased cleaning and sanitization practices adopted now ever be completely abandoned?  Should all of us expect to be utilizing more technology in the future for meetings and training events such as Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams just to name a few?  Rather than reflecting on the past and how we used to do things, or dreaming about how we wish things were, now is the time to embrace living in the present and making the most of our situation.  This is exactly how we operate our wastewater treatment facilities, learning from experiences, adapting to changes, and adjusting best practices along the way.  Refusing to accept this and not adapting to the “Now Normal” will most certainly be counterproductive, so make the most of it and consider it a great learning experience. 

COVID is certainly not gone, and there are more new cases throughout the state every day.  Health experts predict a likely resurgence in the fall or winter months.  Now is NOT the time to let your guard down.  Remain vigilant in your precautionary measures such as social distancing, proper handwashing techniques, and avoiding going to work when feeling ill.  It’s everyone’s responsibility right now to keep ourselves, our families, and our coworkers safe and healthy. Remember, every one of you are essential workers, who provide a very important service to your community.  Your health and well-being is more critical now than ever.

The WWOA Board is busier than ever evaluating local health recommendations and adapting accordingly.   There have been 8 very well attended virtual training events scheduled over the past two months to provide opportunities to earn credits.  The Board made a decision in June that all in-person WWOA related events will be cancelled through the end of August.  The Board will re-evaluate this in July to determine if this time frame should be extended.  You should have all seen a survey in mid-June.  Thank you to everyone that responded and provided critical information to the Board.  That information is being used to help make an informed decision about the upcoming annual conference.  A recent decision was also made to cancel the Operator Competition for 2020 due to health reasons.  The WWOA Board is committed to making sound decisions based on the best available information at the time, while keeping everyone’s health and safety as a top priority.  

Now is the time to submit your award nominations.  Many of you certainly know someone deserving of an award.  Take a few minutes to write up an award nomination for that deserving person.  Visit the WWOA website for more information about each award and the appropriate forms. 

Best wishes, stay safe, and stay healthy,


Jeff Smudde

WWOA President

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