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August 27, 2015

Water Haller: For the Love of Water

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While the CWWA is mostly focused on utility management, from drinking water supply to wastewater treatment, I think it is safe to say we all love water. This has been a great summer and I have spent a lot of it in the water. I live just a couple of blocks up from the mighty St. Lawrence River where my family swims daily, or kayaks, or we hitch a sail on a friend’s boat. Even a visit to Grandma’s farm means swimming in the Quyon River or the Ottawa or one of the many lakes of West Quebec. If we are not at the beach, we are at the town pool and my kids are still young enough for splash pads or even sprinklers in the backyard. We all love water and appreciate it in its natural state.   

That universal love of water just adds to the importance of what we do as utility leaders in each of our communities. The treatment plants and distribution/collection pipes and all the plumbing can get separated from that environmental state, but we know it is all connected. The Wastewater System Effluent Regulations are focused on source protection and the need for infrastructure renewal is critical to maintaining a safe and secure system.    

We have seen incredible improvements over the last 40 years in industrial harbours like my hometown of Hamilton. However, we are increasingly seeing "No Swimming" signs in many of our favourite water bodies across the country. Blue-Green Algae advisories can be seen across the country affecting beaches and recreation of all kinds. Conservation authorities are developing plans and programs, but the rising global temperatures are exacerbating the situation. As a quasi-resident of Ottawa, I am pleased to see the city council identifying its wastewater system as its highest infrastructure priority to address longstanding community concern for their beaches.  

We’ll be looking at issues like this and many more at the National Water & Wastewater Conference this fall in Whistler. Our opening plenary will look at the challenges of the utility leader and the council in the face of national and global issues. Another session, The Big Picture, will look at our resources from the watershed approach. I hope you can join us!


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