President’s 2020 Year End Message

Dear OMWA Member:

I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy during these difficult times. Our members and their professional water, wastewater and stormwater staff remain our top priority and we will continue to ensure that we provide the greatest benefit for your membership.

Looking back, just one year ago, I wrote in my President’s message, that challenges have always been part of our industry and always will be, but we are fortunate that there are so many dedicated individuals across Ontario. As we turn the page on what has been one of the most challenging year of our lives, both personally and professionally, this couldn’t be truer.

I also spoke of my personal experiences and the privilege that I felt to work with many of you, to have discussions on the challenges we have faced and the challenges to come. That with challenges, come opportunities, a time to be innovative, a time to collaborate, and perhaps most importantly, a time to work together and to continue to build relationships.

Again, this year has proven this to be more important than ever before. As challenges became the new normal, the OMWA was honoured to be able to contribute to relevant discussions through collaboration, innovation, and forging new relationships.

As the world began to change in the middle of March, there was uncertainty like never before across our industry. The OMWA wanted to be able to provide an outlet that would communicate relevant, important information in a forum that could reach out across the province, and in some cases, Canada.  The industry wanted information and we were able to provide this in an easy format that people could access.

The OMWA hosted and produced a number of COVID-19 related webinars during the first three months of the pandemic to provide relevant information on topics such as wastewater risks, regulatory impacts of COVID-19, building water quality, and employee assistance programs.

These webinars would not have been as successful without collaboration, the cornerstone to our organization. Collaborative efforts with the WCWC, the CWWA, and the MWWWRC just to name a few.

As we entered the month of May, we took a reflective pause form COVID-19 to commemorate the 20thanniversary of the Walkerton Tragedy, a webinar that exceeded 700 registrations.  A true measure of how this tragedy continues to be on the minds of operators everywhere. Our thanks to retired Justice Dennis O’Connor, Former Chief Drinking Water Inspector, Jim Smith, CEO of the Walkerton Clean Water Center, Carl Kuhnke, and Executive Director of the OMWA, and Ed Houghton, for their involvement and efforts in this impactful event.

As we entered the summer, it was apparent that the world would not be returning to normal anytime soon and that these challenges were here for the long term. The OMWA looked for further ways to be able to provide stability and consistency to the industry. The formation of the Water, Wastewater, & Stormwater (or W3) Equipment & Technology Advisory Council allowed for a sustainable foundation to be able to continue to contribute. Membership in this advisory council is comprised of manufacturers and consultants who provide goods and services to the water3 sector in Ontario and provided a sustainable format to be able to deliver important training to operators across the province in a safe manner.

The concept of bi-weekly “On The Job” training sessions was born and as of December, 16 topics were covered, from water meters to hydrants, with over 1000 participants.

The OMWA is excited at 2021 initiatives that will continue to build on the foundation that was put together in 2020. Collaborative ideas have already been tabled and discussed and we are excited to be able to share these events as we get closer to finalizing them.

In a year like never before, the OMWA is very happy that we were able to contribute to the industry over these past 12 months through providing information, and by doing so hopefully providing some comfort through this consistency, support, and stability.

On a personal note, I would like to thank my fellow Board Members and our Executive Director Ed Houghton, and his team, for their continued support, contributions and ideas. A special thank you also to Cheryl Beam and Justin Pulleyblank for their tireless dedication throughout the year. We all have our full-time responsibilities, in work and in life, and I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize your exceptional efforts.

I would like to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season and my hope is that we will all be able to spend time with our families and friends very soon.

Mike Mortimer
President, Ontario Municipal Water Association


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