Meeting new water professionals while losing their mentor

by Apr 7, 20210 comments

The Water Haller – March 2021

 I have had a truly inspiring month in which I joined a number of online water events for young professionals across Canada.  I spoke at a Career Day webinar for students of all things water-related at Queens University.  Then I did the same for a night at Western University.  Both events were inspiring for me to see the enthusiasm from these students and a true desire to make a difference.  I was also recruited as a so-called ‘expert’ for the Western Canada AquaHacking Competition.  I joined an “Ask Me Anything” session and was excited to see so many applicants for the competition. Meanwhile, I continue as an advisor to the IWA’s Young Professional Committee in Canada as they prepare for their national online event this June. 

What is most promising is to see the diversity of these new water professionals.  There were a lot of young women, more women than men, and so many cultures represented.  The depth of our next talent pool is very deep and very dedicated. 

But then we received word of the passing of my friend Nick Reid (please read his obituary here in the e-Bulletin).  Nick’s latest chapter was as the executive director of Ryerson Urban Water.  This was a job made for Nick, where his intellect and enthusiasm combined to inspire so many young professionals. Throughout his career, Nick was known as one of the friendliest and most approachable people in our industry.  He became a mentor, knowingly or unknowingly, to so many. I met Nick 20 years ago when he was at OCWA and we attended conferences together –   he asked me to join OCWA’s municipal advisory panel.  Years later, when I landed this job at CWWA, I was soon working with Nick again, through OCWA, then Water Canada magazine and then Ryerson and OWWA.  Nick was an advocate for our “Flushable Wipes” team supporting the research we needed to strengthen our efforts.  Nick had a true passion for our water industry and for our bigger mission.  

One of the comments I read this week about Nick was how he was always ‘playful’.  That reminded me of the time he was so excited to come to the stage after I spoke at an event so that he could share a sketch he had drawn of me.  I like to show drawings that my kids make of me, so he decided to add to the collection.  I saved that sketch because I was so honoured that one of my heroes, a guy that I respected so much, took the time to be silly with me and make me laugh.  My condolences to his family and to all his many, many colleagues who will miss him.     

 World Water Day and Sustainable Utilities

 I know I talked about this last month, but World Water Day (March 22nd) was a really big day for CWWA.  To celebrate the world’s focus on water, we held the last session of our National Webinar Series with a terrific panel discussion on the changing world of utility management.  We had four insightful utility leaders from across Canada and an excellent moderator considering just four of the major changes: moving beyond the infrastructure to the watershed; a new, diverse workforce; a new relationship with the public, infrastructure demands and the everchanging regulatory world.  I strongly recommend you log on to our website and listen to the recording of this closing session. In fact, you can watch ALL of the webinars by checking out our resources page. 

Also on the Resources page, you will find the newly released guidance document, Towards a Sustainable Utility.  This is a tremendous road map and tool box, developed by utility leaders, for utility leaders.  Please share this guidance document with your colleagues, your staff and even with your municipal council or utility board, so that they have a sense of the many challenges we face on our road to sustainability.


We’ve already got a program ready for the (virtual) Window on Ottawa and Canadian Water Summit in June (8-10) and we rae just starting work for the program for the National Conference – November 1-3, LIVE, in Niagara Falls!