President's Message

The calendar tells us spring has officially arrived and the ski resorts across Wisconsin confirm this as they sadly close for the season.  The snow has melted in much of Wisconsin and the winter/spring rains are delivering higher than average flows to most resource recovery facilities.  Most of us accept the temperature changes, increased flows, and changes in treatment conditions and make the necessary treatment adjustments without much thought.  As I stated previously, the Wisconsin resource recovery specialists are skilled and equipped to handle almost any adversity Mother Nature or the political climate and regulations hand us.

WWOA Vice President, Jeff Simpson, called the Technical Committee to order on February 10 in Middleton, Wisconsin.  Juice led us through the many high quality abstracts submitted and together the committee selected two pre-conference workshops and 38 technical presentations.  The workshops will address laboratory requirements and the elements for a successful safety program.  Back on the Technical Program for the third consecutive year is a discussion on “Tricks of the Trade.”  The presentation committee is soliciting tricks and tips from members.  Members are invited to submit their tricks and tips to be included in the presentation to Troy Larson at troy.larson@strand.com.  The Tricks of the Trade committee will assist contributors in presenting a series of short stories illustrating lessons learned.  Assistance for contributors will vary as necessary to promote the sharing of ideas and may include presenting on their behalf.

In addition to the 38 technical sessions, a new special session devoted to septage and land application regulations will be held on Thursday afternoon.  The WWOA Technical Committee wants to send a special thank you to all those who took the time to submit an abstract to present at the annual conference.  We received many more abstracts than we could use.  If your paper was not selected, please resubmit the abstract next year.  The topics were all good and interesting; we simply could not fit them all into this year’s program.

2017 marks the 45th birthday of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The CWA is one of the most successful environmental statues in the history of United States and set the standards for secondary wastewater treatment.  The CWA led to a significant reduction in point source pollution and provided direction toward critical investments in our nation’s infrastructure.  Now 45 years later, our wastewater treatment plants discharge cleaner water than ever before and we are now faced with new water quality challenges that reach outside our fences to the watershed.  We are no longer just treaters of a waste; we are resource managers recovering and redistributing vital resources from waste streams.

As I have mentioned in my previous two messages, I strongly believe public education is a primary component to improving our final treated products, reducing maintenance costs, and gaining the trust and respect for our work so that the public ultimately understands and appreciates the true value of water.  Reaching out to our communities so they truly understand the value of clean water and the innovative technological advances our industry has made is perhaps more critical now than ever before.  To help increase respect and appreciation from the public, it is important that our name adequately describes what we do.  The Water Environment Federation recognized the changing paradigm in the water sector and officially started using the term, water resource recovery facility (WRRF) in place of wastewater treatment plant in 2012.  A name is not just words; a name describes an organization and helps motivate people.

The Wisconsin Wastewater Operators Association has evolved and grown over the last 50 years.  I believe it is time we recognize our advancements and the paradigm shift from treating waste to recovering resources from a waste.  I propose the WWOA adopts a new name which reflects this paradigm shift, perhaps Wisconsin Resource Recovery Specialists.  I invite all the WWOA members to contact me or another Board member with your thoughts on adopting a new name for our organization.  What better way to distinguish our industry for the next 50 years!

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