Even though we are in the middle of winter fighting the cold and snow, I am starting to appreciate the many benefits of living in the Midwest. We don’t have to worry about or deal with hurricanes, coastal flooding, or extreme drought. We have abundant natural resources. Last and certainly not least is the fact that in general, we have abundant, clean water that we use for sanitation, drinking, irrigation, cleaning, cooling, and industrial uses. Recreation is also important; who does not love a canoe trip down a winding river, fishing your favorite spot as dawn approaches, weekend boating, or simply taking a trip to a nearby lake on a hot summer afternoon? Water resources are our responsibility to hand down to future generations in as good or a better condition than they are today.
As water stewards for our water environment, we have a large influence on the water quality in and around our communities whether you are involved with urban storm water runoff, agricultural runoff, or private or public wastewater treatment discharging to surface water. As water professionals in Central States, we have different spheres of influence; from utilities and municipalities, to academia, to manufacturers and manufacturer representatives, to consultants. We can each offer a unique perspective toward a clean water environment.
Considering we are fortunate to have access to abundant, clean water, and we have technical expertise, we are in a unique position to contribute to the cause of clean water for our generation and generations to come. As an added benefit, I often think that one key to happiness is living beyond ourselves and immersing ourselves in a cause greater than our individual aspirations. There is something about giving back or contributing to a greater cause that brings peace of mind and a sense of duty accomplished. This is one way to make the world a better place. I cannot think of a better way to further this cause in our area of expertise – the water environment – than to get involved with Central States. The needs are great. We are always looking for new perspectives, new ideas and fresh energy on the Association and the State Section level committees.
A great example of a cause greater than ourselves working toward clean water is our sister organization, Global Water Stewardship. This organization was started in 2013. Global Water Stewardship resolves sanitation issues in the developing world by educating people and engineering sustainable centralized solutions that keep waterways clean and communities healthy. Each year the organization builds upon itself and grows. To date, all work has been done in Costa Rica. Recently, the 501 C (3) organization has recognized that in addition to project planning and design through the help of CSWEA student chapter design teams, a great impact can be made through education on wastewater topics such as collection systems, preliminary treatment, activated sludge, nutrient removal, and biosolids management. A training program has been started in on these topics when members of the organization take trips to Costa Rica in February and August each year. The organization requires hard work of its members. However, what I hear from volunteers are the positives; the people they met in Costa Rica, a design created that can improve lives, a community meeting where great synergy took place, a new funding source for a project. The list of positive experiences goes on and on. Even though it is hard work, I venture to say that the experience provides a level of happiness to its volunteers. They know they are making a real positive impact on people with fewer resources than the rest of us. They are positively changing lives now and for future generations in Costa Rica.
Here are some other specific examples of ways to contribute to the greater cause of clean water in areas inside and outside of Central States:
The list of opportunities goes on and on. What is important is not what your activity is or if you are impacting in the greatest way, it is simplify the fact that you are “doing”.
Let’s live beyond ourselves and contribute toward a cause greater than ourselves – our aspiration of a clean water environment for our generation and future generations. I encourage you to contemplate how you might be able contribute to a cause greater than yourself through service in our Association or other organizations. This charge spans all work sectors, ages, and experience levels. In this age of being ultra-busy, fragmented, and frazzled, in our “day” jobs, this just might provide a little tranquility and happiness.