The Water Haller – On Tour!
The Water Haller – April 2022
That’s right. I’m going back on tour to see you, the CWWA members across Canada. I have been so excited to see everyone again, but after over 2 ½ years of not going to any live events, it seems we’re trying to do them all in the same 6-week period. Starting May 1st you’ll see me in Niagara Falls for the OWWA, then Victoria for BCWWA, back to Niagara for the Canadian Water Summit before heading to San Antonio for AWWA’s ACE event and then London (Ontario) for WEAO.
The purpose of all these trips is to fulfil one of CWWA’s biggest goals. While our first goal is to represent the municipal utility sector at the federal level, our second goal is to keep our members informed. So as I travel to all these events, I get the opportunity to speak to the delegates and provide updates on federal legislation, national policy development and CWWA activities. I also get to promote our own national events like the Window on Ottawa and the National Water & Wastewater Conference. Best of all, I get to meet the individuals that are the heart of our association as I work to strengthen our partnerships with the provincial, regional and international associations.
A Virtual Window on Ottawa
We’ve put another solid program together this year for the Window on Ottawa event. This unique event is designed to provide members with direct insight into what’s going on in Ottawa. We bring together key policymakers so that they can share with you the most relevant information – not about what they did last year, but what they are working on now and for the next few years. We cover topics like drinking water guidelines, infrastructure funding, security, biosolids, plastics, wipes and climate change.
These are important sessions that are best delivered in a virtual format so that we can reach more members that need to know. All the details are on the website of course at Events – Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (cwwa.ca).
Water in the Ukraine
As we watch the news each night in horror, and wonder what we can do to help, there ‘may’ be an opportunity soon….we hope. CWWA has been closely involved with Operators Without Boarders for a few years now as the new charity organization focused on disaster relief in the Caribbean. We have helped to send CWWA members, as certified operators, to assist in places like Domenica, Belize and St. Lucia following hurricanes. We were able to get qualified and experienced water operators into disaster locations to help re-establish safe water and wastewater operations.
During covid, when travel was not an option, the OWB created learning programs to assist these communities, and soon the word got out about these programs. Requests for access to OWB training spread to countries around the world. Then came the invasion of Ukraine.
Leadership at the OWB has been contacted by water associations in Europe for support. I was invited to a number of meetings now with the Polish Water and Wastewater Association that is communicating directly with the Ukrainian association. So many critical water systems have been shut down or even destroyed during attacks. Of course it is too dangerous to enter Ukraine right now, but if and when hostilities cease and it is deemed safe for Ukrainians to return home, they will need a lot of help to recover. This may mean the donation of used equipment, financial support, or even the assistance of our qualified operators.
We’re not calling for any volunteers yet, but if you are reading this and you know anyone in our industry that speaks Polish or Ukrainian, we could probably use them on our calls for now, just to help with translation when needed.
Speaking of which, the FIRST person I thought of was Zbigniew Bukala, a polish-Canadian water engineer that I had the great pleasure of working with years ago when he was with OCWA. Over the years I had come to call him a friend…although I’d lost track of him when covid stopped all travel. Sadly I learned that we lost “Zbig” early in the pandemic. Aside from being a brilliant and creative engineer, he was also one of the happiest and most-entertaining storytellers I’ve met. I will miss his zbig smile at conferences.