CSWEA | President’s Message

Engagement: Are You a Water Nut?

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” – Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been a water professional for many years, and I’m always impressed at how engaged our members are with water and the extent that we have included our families in this. It’s been a great experience meeting many of your families over the years, and even seeing some of your kids join our profession.  Many of you have heard that after touring numerous treatment plants that my three nephews we fondly refer to as Hewy, Dewy and Louis, told their teacher and classmates that I owned all the plants we toured; which ended up with me giving a presentation at their school. I’m sure some of you share the experience of being asked at a social gathering about where you work, and having a family member respond with a resounding “Don’t get her started,” knowing that we will talk about water topics for as long as anyone will let us.

I recently had the experience of sharing WEFTEC with a family member. They sat in on several technical sessions, tours, and discussions with many of my colleagues, and after an impressive tour of the exhibit hall, they inquired about the size of the conference. I rattled off many statistics and when I stated that over 20,000 people attend WEFTEC every year, their response was, “I had no idea there were so many types of water and so many people this involved with water; I can’t believe there are this many water nuts in the world.” The group we were with had a good laugh and then responded that, “We love being water nuts!” and recognizing a teachable moment, started talking about the importance of water, the transition to “One Water” and the many things we do daily as water professionals. In the end, my family member had a new understanding of the importance of water, our jobs, and the WEFTEC experience.

Now, I have recognized that being a water nut is very close to being a water nerd, which is a term coined by Dennis Lindeke during his speech as the incoming CSWEA president. In the spirit of recycling, let’s reintroduce “You might be a water geek/nut if…”

  • You point out all the wastewater plants to your family when on a road trip, and then stop in for a tour and…
  • Your family offers process advice while they are on the tour.
  • Do you look for plants from the window of your airplane?
  • Your heart goes all a-flutter when you first see the display floor at WEFTEC.
  • You know what BOD, COD, RCP, CMP, and CMOM are.
  • You get tears in your eyes when the water in your final clarifier is so clear that you can see the bottom.
  • You take pride in all the above because this is what we are here for!


The take-away from this is that we have a shared responsibility to educate our families and our communities about the important work we do and to do that in a manner that they can understand, so they help spread the word and support our efforts.

On another note, the CSWEA 90th Annual Meeting will be held May 22-25 in St. Paul, MN. We will be sun-setting the Leadership Academy with a hands-on introduction to Continuous Improvement Practices. New features include a tour of Stormwater Best Management Practices and a Resource Recovery track featuring nationally recognized invited speakers. In addition, we will be recognizing many association members for outstanding service at the association luncheon and banquet.  There are also several social events that are great opportunities to network, to connect with old friends, and meet some new ones.

I hope to see all of you at the annual meeting this year.

-Pat Oates-

Mission Statement

To provide a Water Environment Federation (WEF) organization (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin) offering multiple opportunities for the exchange of water quality knowledge and experiences among its members and the public and to foster a greater awareness of water quality achievements and challenges.