APPRECIATE THE VALUE OF CSWEA
By Jay Kemp
I don’t know about you, but one of the most head-scratching things about our current times is the notion of science becoming political. The various positions on issues like climate change, energy development, game management – even disposable wipes – indicate a trend to ignore good science in favor of expedience or placating a particular group. Maybe it’s always been so.
As water professionals, we understand the water environment and our role in protecting, maintaining and improving water quality. In general, we are the ones to implement policy, not make policy, but we can work to change policies for the better. That’s where the benefits of professional organizations like Central States are highlighted. Our organization can be a voice and offer an opportunity for individuals to contribute to the continued success of our industry and be an advocate for good science and sound policies. To advocate for policies that support and fund our industry, CSWEA will again be represented at the National Water Policy Fly-In. We are joined by NACWA and WateReuse in the important event in Wahington, D.C.
In previous articles, I wrote about exciting developments in resource recovery, the challenges represented by changes at the USEPA and new threats to the Great Lakes. in my final article as chair, I am trying those things together with this idea: Our industry can continue to make strides using our own resources and ingenuity. Good things can be accomplished at the state and local level without regulatory mandates or support. And of course, CSWEA provides a foundation for these initiatives with shared knowledge and experience, networking, inspiration, and numerous examples and case studies. The support of our peers and colleagues can be invaluable in uncertain or difficult times.
Resource recovery may be the best example of taking initiative. Consider that renewable energy development, nutrient recovery and water reuse can all be cost-effective on their own merits. Wetland and riparian restoration and green infrastructure raise the awareness of the importance of water resources and yes, sustainable development. Projects like these become sources of pride and recognition for a community or district. This year’s Education Seminar provides the information and resources you need to understand the value inherent in biosolids and accessing that value through beneficial use and nutrient recovery.
Great Lakes restoration means bigger fish to fry, and frankly requires national and international funding, but an example of a local initiative is the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee being actively engaged in monitoring and data gathering to better understand the health of the Lakes and provide the tools needed for policy decisions. And the demands on the water from Lake Michigan continue with a requested diversion to serve the proposed Foxconn factory in Mount Pleasant, WI, a straddling community partially outside of the Great Lakes watershed. The access to Lake Michigan water was undoubtedly a contributing factor in the site selection, which demonstrates the value of our water-rich region.
Entering the last quarter of my term as chair, I would like to thank all the committees and their members for continuing their fine work and providing educational and networking opportunities throughout the year through our many seminars and events. Our YPs continue to be amazing. As I write this, Allen Williams is preparing to represent the Wisconsin Section at the YP Summit in San Antonio. Good luck to Allen; I’ll be expecting a full report. Thanks to Mark Van Weelden for heading up the effort to select our attendee.
I want to recognize our Industrial Waste Committee for all of their work putting on our Pre-treatment Seminar, and especially Nora Erlandson for her years of service to the committee and wish her the best as she retires this spring. I could not have gotten this far without the help of past chairs Dan Zitomer and Alan Grooms; they are great sources of information and provide a sounding board when needed.
Our secretary Veronica Loete was invaluable in keeping the business of the Section on track along with treasurer Jon Butt. Veronica is leaving the Section leadership in May but promises to stay active in CSWEA. Thanks to vice-chair Troy Larson for his good ideas. He’ll provide great leadership going forward.
You belong to a great organization. Appreciate it, support it, get involved, learn stuff, have fun.