CSWEA Officers & Directors

Summer 2017 By Zach Matyja

Where Will You Go?!

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose…  you know what you know.  And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

–        Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

By Zach MatyjaMatyja_Zach

You made it!  Here we are in the thick of summer and you’ve made it through another spring… a season associated with new beginnings, spring cleaning, wet weather (I hope you had your flow meters in and calibrated!), graduations, and, of course, conferences and trade shows.

I want to start by thanking my predecessor, Matt Streicher.  Under Matt’s leadership, the Illinois Section is as strong as ever.  Matt exemplifies what it means to be a leader in the industry.  His involvement is just one example of how those passionate about our industry get involved.  There are dozens of others in our organization just like Matt – their service often goes unrecognized but never unnoticed.

As I reflect back on this spring, I see how quickly we can become overwhelmed by the dizzying array of opportunities that are available to someone in our industry.  The same week as the CSWEA Annual Conference was the national WEF Collections specialty conference, and multiple other associations’ events in the Chicago area.  It is certainly both a blessing and a curse to live in Illinois where we have just as many PDH and CEU events as we do layers of government.  One could easily travel the state, attend an educational event, trade show, golf outing, or other event within our industry, and never get any work done.  For those of us covering multiple states and expansive territories – the lists grow exponentially!  Where will you go?!

The number of events doesn’t show signs of slowing down either, with rumors that the long-anticipated and overdue requirement for adding continuing education unit (CEU) requirements for Wastewater Operators is being discussed in the Illinois state legislature.  So what should our role be, as an organization focused on all things wastewater?  I would like to see our Section continue growing in three areas – two of which I believe we have excelled at, and one growth area where I see tremendous potential.

  • Excellent local specialty conferences. The Illinois Section provides excellent one-day specialty workshops throughout the year.  These events are very successful and well-attended and include Collections (June 22), Operations (July 12) Energy and Resource Recovery, Government Affairs, Industrial Pre-Treatment and Laboratory, Biosolids, and more!  While these conferences will never replace the annual conference or WEFTEC, they provide an inexpensive opportunity for member agencies to send staff to expand their knowledge in their areas of interest and specialty.


  • Teaming and Collaboration. Given the overload mentioned above, I believe it is in our best interests to continue collaborating with other organizations throughout the state to maximize the exposure of our events and minimize the number of total events.  Instead of competing for attendees, we need to team up so the best and brightest of each group join together to increase attendance, value, and excellence of each workshop we are a part of.  The result will always be stronger because of collaboration.  We have great examples of this, including involving the Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies and the Chicago Metro APWA in our Illinois Collection Systems Workshop for the past few years.  The conference has grown and become one of the strongest specialty conferences in the state.


  • Downstate involvement. I do have one goal that I would like to see become a reality.  If we continue to accomplish items one and two above, we can become a section that encompasses the entire state and not just the Chicago metro area.  Our Collections and Operations committees are in the early stages of developing teaming partnerships and content for a downstate specialty conference this fall.  What it will look like, where it will be, and who will be involved is still to be determined, but we are hopeful that this will grow our downstate membership, exposure, and involvement for years to come.  If you live or work that way and want to get involved more in CSWEA, please let me know you’re interested!


I’m honored to represent the Section as your chair, and I am excited to see what 2017-2018 brings!

And will you succeed?  Yes!  You will, indeed!  (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

–                 Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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.

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