Welcome to 2022! It’s a new year, so it would normally be time to reflect on new beginnings. It’s difficult to do that, though, when things still seem like “Groundhog Day” the movie. Perhaps we can each set a new year’s resolution related to cleaner water and water conservation, though! That’s something we are all passionate about.
I think this article is going to jump around a bit. In October, WEFTEC was fun. Many of us Central Staters masked up, showed our vaccine cards, and went. It was great to see our CSWEA Pumpers and Shovelers teams do so well in their operations challenge competitions. Our teams are composed of a mix of members from different wastewater agencies, which helps form bonds and increases camaraderie but makes it difficult to compete with the big agency teams. Kudos to those who trained and participated! The lower number of attendees made the exhibit hall more relaxed and enjoyable to me, as compared to past years of trying to make and travel to one appointment after another. Thanks to our exhibitors who stuck with it this year; I truly hope they felt it was worthwhile and that attendance is higher at 2022 WEFTEC in New Orleans. WEFTEC is scheduled for October 8 – 12, 2022.
Later in October, we were deeply saddened by the loss of one of our younger members and rising stars, Ryan Giefer of Wisconsin Rapids Wastewater Treatment. The Wisconsin Section operations committee kindly drafted the poignant tribute that was sent to members by e-blast. All three state sections and the CSWEA Executive Committee voted to make a monetary donation to Ryan’s wife and young children. A Go Fund Me page is here if you are interested in a personal donation: https://www.gofundme.com/f/surrounding-the-giefer-family-with-love . Ryan was chair of the Technical Program Committee and the other committee members decided to hold his chair position open to honor him. Committee members Mandy Sheposh and Emma Larson are now sharing leadership duties. We thank them and the committee for all they are doing, which presently includes reviewing abstracts for the Annual Meeting. I know many of you were friends and colleagues with Ryan and are still hurting badly from the loss. There have been many other losses in the industry and in some of our families, although no other CSWEA members, to my knowledge. Please take care of yourselves and each other during these difficult times.
We continue to plan for in-person CSWEA events at Monona Terrace in Madison this year: Education Seminar in April and the 95th Annual Meeting in May. We hope to see you! Projections (and my Pollyanna view) indicate that the omicron variant will be well past peak by then, and the shows will go on unless we are told that we can’t gather. We intend to follow applicable health mandates. According to Destination Madison, Dane County (where Madison is located) has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and, relatively speaking, COVID-19 case numbers have stayed low. See https://www.visitmadison.com/reopening/ which is updated regularly with information for visitors on things like masking, testing sites, and vaccination rates. The county currently has a mask mandate in place which is set to expire in February but may be extended.
Our Annual Meeting Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) Chair Lindsey Busch and her committee have worked out many of the details for the conference and these will be finalized in the next few months. It is shaping up to be a “back to normal” kind of event with golf, social event, exhibit hall, technical presentations, special topics tracks, awards banquet, and the usual business meetings. There are several hotels to choose from. It will be May 17-19. More information is here: http://cswea.org/events/cswea-95th-annual-meeting.
The Annual Meeting theme is Stronger Together. The LAC was recently mulling over what we mean by this theme. It means many things – the obvious one is that we are stronger when we work together than we are as individuals. It implies that we will (hopefully) be together again in person this year. It implies we are stronger when we are together in all our celebrated diversity – diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, age, technical backgrounds, sexual orientation, opinions, and more. We are stronger when we work together on our core business of clean water and resource recovery, and on really big problems like climate change. I like that this theme has nuances, and I know that even if we can’t always be together in person (our January executive committee meeting was just moved online, for example), we are still together in spirit and are continuing to communicate effectively.
We hope you’re taking advantage of the webinars CSWEA has been offering. There are many other great events coming up in 2022 as listed here: http://cswea.org/upcoming-events .
CSWEA is still looking for assistance with CS Water magazine theme planning and soliciting articles. Please contact Mohammed Haque if you have an interest in this: email@example.com .
If you would like to learn more about CSWEA and take full advantage of your membership, I encourage you to join a committee. The state section committees are a great place to start. Each Section can be accessed here: http://cswea.org/ … click on the state and then About Us and you’ll see the list of officers and committees. If you are a student, a young professional, or are new to the profession, a state section Students & YP committee may be a great place to start. There are committees to suit many other interest areas: stormwater, government affairs, industrial wastes, energy and resource recovery, seminar planning, and more. Feel free to reach out to a chairperson or to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Please continue to stay safe and take care of each other. Enjoy this beautiful winter. I look forward to seeing you online or in person soon!