Water Safety Month is meant as a reminder to be safe while recreating in the water, but it could also mean paying attention to the water that hydrates you. I would bet money that you don't know this, that we're in the middle of National Drinking Water Week, a celebration recognizing the role water plays in everyday life for both water professionals and the communities they serve. It's been around since 1988, promoted by the American Water Works Association and officially proclaimed by the US Government to be celebrated the first full week in May. For twenty years the Washington State Department of Health has used the week to recognize individual water systems and operators around the state that do an outstanding job providing safe and reliable drinking water to their customers.
This year, among the honorees are several people from central and eastern Washington. They include Wyatt Long, the Public Works Manager of Rock Island who, during a power outage, slept outside the main well to insure the generator continued running. This kept the pump going, and prevented the system from losing pressure. As a result, Rock Island never ran out of water, and didn't have to face the difficulties brought on by loss of pressure in the system. Long was a winner of a Commitment to Excellence award.
Then there's Christopher Roblin of Ferry County, winner of the Above and Beyond award; he's responsible for bring out of compliance water systems back into compliance with state regulations. Ferry County had taken over many small, at-risk and failing water systems. Roblin turned them all around and even added Wastewater Operator certification to his skills so he could oversee all aspects of those water systems.
And there's Pend Oreille PUD Water System Manager Mark “Bubba” Scott, winner of a Lifetime Achievement award. He is responsible for nine water systems and their communities. He worked to secure over $5 million in grant funds for projects that were vital for maintaining the health and safety of poor, rural communities. He is responsible for major construction of water treatment facilities, wells, chemical treatment systems, along with various studies, cross connection control, and well head protection programs. Scott has served on numerous committees, most recently as a Governor appointee to the Washington State Public Works Board.
The winners of these awards were nominated by supervisors, peers, and staff from the DOH Office of Drinking Water.