CSWEA | WEF Delegates’ Report
by Eric Lynne & Doug Henrichsen
Following a productive 90th Annual Conference, the WEF Delegates bring a WEF update and some new concepts to take the organization to the next level. As CSWEA’s Delegates (and Executive Director), we took the opportunity to attend separate WEFMAX (which stands for: WEF Member Association Exchange) events and collect a few tidbits from our peers and share that with Central States. Eric attended the Cincinatti WEFMAX, Mohammed attended the Puerto Rico WEFMAX, and Doug attended the Austin WEFMAX representing CSWEA. Following these meetings, we are disseminating some of the news, both from the HOD and those tidbits from other MAs.
First, recall WEF’s Missions listed below, these provide the building blocks for most of the initiatives from WEF. At CSWEA, we are doing a super job towards supporting these efforts!
- Connect water professionals
- Enrich the expertise of water professionals
- Increase the awareness of the impact and value of water
- Provide a platform for water sector innovation
General WEF and House of Delegates Information Update:
- WEF has come a long way on its strategic planning journey as it develops a 3-year business plan. This approach provides for predictable planning, budgeting, and tracking, giving the Board and staff the necessary time to consider data and trends, seek input, and to plan ahead. This concept also provides an actionable reference for our staff to use throughout the year, as well as a broad overview of the business climate at WEF.
- CSWEA leaders are invited to a WEF hosted free strategic planning training webcast. The webcast will be hosted twice, first on June 22 and again on June 29. Our Sections are highly encouraged to participate.
- There are four Delegate at Large positions opening for nominations. If anyone is interested in applying, contact Doug or Eric for more info.
- WEF is developing a new dues strategy to avoid confusion with how annual membership dues revisions are implemented. The proposed concept involves a long timeframe (greater than 12 months) from the time of considering the need until the time of implementation. The result is intended to increase communication. More information on the dues program will be shared in future reports when finalized.
- WEF is still intending to offer free memberships to non-members from our 3 states who attend WEFTEC 2017. Details will be distributed on the free MA-Only membership opportunities offered to WEFTEC attendees. Current plans limit offerings to only true non-members; lapsed memberships would not qualify.
Public Education and Outreach:
This topic was a focus area requested by the membership. So much so that Mohammed, Eric, and Doug each were asked to share our CSWEA successes with the Global Water Stewardship program. Thus far, interest in our sister organization has been high. Other noteworthy activity in the organization includes:
- WEF and the HOD recently developed an elevator speech summary sheet of 6 quick responses to succinctly reply to the common “What is WEF?” question. The full document can be found on WEFCOM, but I’ve included my favorite below:
“We support the men and women who work everyday to ensure that water is cleaned and returned safely into the environment for reuse.”
By simply omitting or twisting some words, one can manipulate these statements to provide a more personal response for those times when you are asked “What do you do for a living?”.
- WEF’s Students and Young Professionals Committee, specifically the Community Service Project subcommittee, is developing a Standard Operating Procedure for their annual WEFTEC event. Aside from instilling a level of sustainability to the eternal transfer of knowledge, the group hopes that this document will be something that can be used to guide MAs in the development of local (likely smaller) community service projects.
- New York WEA shared their Messaging video (viewable here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtCgNv00fGM) that they made for profiling plants and services provided and less about the ever-present need for funding. This concept could supplement facilities that have seen a decline in K-12 field trips.
MA Exchange Tidbits:
As mentioned above, the concept of WEFMAX is to disseminate those tidbits, things that other Associations are doing that could make our organization better. The below is a summarized list of relevant tidbits from the Cincinnati WEFMAX, so if something peeks your interest – let’s work together to put it in motion!
- Ohio successfully boosted their membership from 1400 to 2000 to obtain a third WEF Delegate. Among the many concepts, one strategy helped them avoid membership swings was to utilize a multi-tier renewal system to ensure all members stay current and provide feedback.
- When discussing a target audience for membership either as Professionals or Students, do not lose sight of the non-traditional members: Stormwater, Soils, Agriculture/Biosolids, Environmental Science, Rate/Finance, Women, Legal, etc.
- Ohio supplemented their operations award to also recognize deserving operators via a points system, which helps them attend events if unable.
- A growing trend in association topics revolves around young professionals. Some MAs are starting to send their YP Chair to WEFMAX for that first-person engagement with YPs.
- Growing number of MAs are developing an Annual Sponsorship Program; which some have included a points system for event related items like registrations. New England WEA has had a system like this already, but noted theirs does not extend to registrations, but may start to look into this. Ohio noted that they now provide a Thank You Letter to all Sponsors.
- To improve Student Chapter relations, consider devoting a section of the magazine for them and allow the university professor to provide relevant content.
- The Pacific Northwest CWA holds special new member events at conferences to expose them to the Executive Board and offer a place to find answers to some of the more basic questions in our organization.
- A growing number of Associations are compiling an MA Calendar. Typically, these consist of a photo competition with a brief plant profile.
- MAs noted difficulty in getting responses to surveys, specifically on their own membership. Depending on the data requested, significant prizes were offered as a raffle to anyone who completed the survey. A similar concept, to boost readership of the MA magazine, involves a hidden member ID could be inserted to the text of a random article, which if that member properly claims it, could be offered a prize.
- To support the women in our industry, some Associations held (solely or partnered with other groups) a Women’s Leadership Luncheon, which acknowledges a Woman of the Year and offer a 1/2 day set of presentations followed by a wine social.
- The Pacific Northwest CWA noted having a well running Student Mentorship Program and even developed an MA level guide. Similarly, New Jersey WEA indicated success at attracting YP attendance with special YP tract sessions where the YPs jointly develop and present their talk with a senior/retired professional.
- Looking to increase premium vendor offerings, Utah WEA now offers sponsor videos to be displayed during lunch.
- As part of Public Outreach and connecting with high school students, and retaining that connection through college, New York WEA has developed a strong scholarship program. The program is very successful and have a goal to distribute $100,000 in 2017.
WEF has developed a packet for Fly-In attendees to increase the effectiveness of everyone’s visits with legislators. The Cincinnati WEFMAX had significant discussion on how MAs have improved their Fly-In experience, with the below as only a few highlights:
- Have a unified voice. Practice. And do your homework.
- Be a resource. Use the JFK approach and change the dialogue from asking for support to providing support. As how we can help answer any questions they have with water related topics. This should lead to a better relationship that extends year-round, beyond the Fly-In week.
- Given the Flint, MI crisis, many lead service items (drinking fountains/sinks) in D.C. government buildings were labeled “DO NOT DRINK” with adjacent Culligan water coolers. This could be used as a topic to initiate discussion.
- Many politicians focus on job growth. Take the officials (Local/State/National) on a tour of the actual infrastructure including spots of overflows and show the need for support. If asked “How many jobs does the water industry support?”:
- Respond powerfully with “All of them” – as there is a way to support this claim from multiple angles.
- Plan the Fly-In as a committee. Start planning after election and try to send multiple MA representatives if possible. Note, NEWEA sent 37 people from 6 states and host a Fly-In 101 for new people many of which pay the way themselves. If possible, they bring a town manager to share a success story of funding.
- Sign up as “Water Advocate” on WEF.com/Advocacy to get weekly updates of This Week in Washington.
- Consider a State legislature level “Drive-In” (instead of Fly-In) for local officials.
- Remember – we are not lobbyists, instead are advocating for an issue, not a candidate.
WEF/WE&RF Lift Affiliate
CSWEA is still pursuing MA Affiliate membership status. As a MA LIFT Affiliate, select CSWEA log-ins will facilitate a link between the utilities, universities, and LIFT projects to ensure our members are aware of opportunities that work towards our common goals. The free membership concept has been discontinued, therefore this will require CSWEA to pay a subscription fee based on the number of log-ins. We are currently still working through WE&RF’s application process.