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President's Message (C Factor)

Resilience: Surviving 2020 and Moving Forward
By Kenneth L Enlow
Posted: 2020-12-01T18:06:00Z

Resilience: Surviving 2020 and Moving Forward

Greetings, everyone. I hope you all are doing well.

It’s December—I can’t believe another year has passed. This year has been
one of the most challenging I’ve ever dealt with, and I believe the events we’ve
experienced will cause changes in how we conduct business going forward in the
years to come.

Once again, I would like to commend water utility professionals for your
ability to adapt and move forward in these challenging times. The word often
used to describe this is resilience, which the Webster Dictionary defines as:
“The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

We as utility professionals are as tough as they come. We adapted to the
changes that were brought on by COVID-19 by quickly implementing procedures
to protect our employees and the public. Furthermore, we developed procedures
that allowed us to continue to provide services to our customers at the same level
and high quality that that they are accustomed to.

As a professional organization FWPCOA was challenged as well in how we
conducted business and how we provided needed training to our membership
and the utility industry.

In this C-Factor I would like review the challenges we had this year and how
we are moving forward to face them and plan for the future.

The Year in Retrospect

For most of us, 2020 began as any year normally would. We were looking
forward to organizing our training—state and regional short schools and other
classroom training—that we were accustomed to providing. We were looking
forward to the annual Florida Water Resources Conference (FWRC) in April and
presenting our Operators Showcase there to discuss current issues.

Early in February we received the sad news of the passing of our friend and
colleague Walt Smyser. Walt was an honorary life member, the chair of the
Website Committee, and our webmaster. This came as a great shock to the
FWPCOA family, which left a void that can never be completely filled.

Of course, then came COVID-19. Things changed very quickly with the rise
of the coronavirus. Most of us had no idea how this ultimately was going to affect
our lives and our organization.

The FWPCOA was informed on March 13 by Indian River State College
(IRSC) that our spring short school, which was scheduled to begin March 16, could
not be held at its campus as a result of restrictions imposed related to the virus.
We were required to cancel the short school on short notice and cancel the
March board of directors meeting that was to be held March 15 at IRSC.

We then cancelled all training classes that were to be held in April 2020 as
notices were coming in related to restrictions for attendance by students and
instructors and the closing of venues previous scheduled for use.

On April 6 the FWPCOA training office closed all onsite face-to-face
classroom training until further notice. Backflow recertification dates were
extended on a case-by-case basis due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

On top of this shocking news we were informed on March 13 that FWRC
had been cancelled. As one of the three organizational members of FWRC, this
annual event is an integral part of FWPCOA’s professional activities for the year.

If things couldn’t get worse, we were notified by IRSC that our summer
short school, scheduled for August 10 through 14, had been canceled due to
COVID-19 restrictions, preventing us from using its campus.

 Resilience Prevails: Maintaining the Course

As I mentioned at the opening of this article, we are resilient. Facing the
obstacles in front of us, we needed to find ways to continue forward as an
organization and provide services to our members.

Our main focus is training. The FWPCOA has already established its Online
Institute for comprehensive training. With a focus on online training, we were
able to boost the number of members registered for online classes.

A recent report (October 2020) from the institute stated that as of this
point in the current operator license renewal cycle, with approximated six months
left, institute activity has already exceeded that which took place during the
entire previous two-year license renewal cycle. The report confirmed that there
are presently 374 students in the institute registry.

In addition, the Education Committee and the FWPCOA administrator have
compiled several updated courses and manuals for training.

The wastewater collection C course and the stormwater C course are
complete and online. The Level III Utility Maintenance course manual is complete
and in final review, backflow testers, and customer relations are in final stage of
development, and the supervision course will be the next to be developed in the

As a professional organization, FWPCOA needed to come up with a method
to continue conducting business. Having to cancel the March 15 board meeting on
short notice, the FWPCOA officers were tasked with finding options for the board
to safely meet.

Since face-to-face meetings were out of the question due to the
coronavirus, we decided to conduct our first virtual board of directors meeting on
June 6. Although we had some bugs to work out, this meeting was a success. In
the months since this first meeting, the association has matured in the virtual
world and has used this media successfully for board meetings and other business
meeting needs.

In an effort to be proactive, FWPCOA developed a COVID-19 guidance
document addressing how to conduct activities under current and future
coronavirus restrictions. Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
guidelines, a guidance document was drafted and approved at the June board

The FWPCOA has been progressively moving forward with our training
efforts as each phase of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are implemented.
Since some schools have reopened, more venues have become available to hold
onsite training classes. Also, a few of our utility departments have lifted
restrictions and allowed FWPCOA to use their facilities for training.

The following table lists onsite training classes that have been held,
beginning in August 2020:

Date Class Location Students
Aug. 10-14, 2020 Utility Maintenance III Manatee 10
Sept. 14-17, 2020 Wastewater Collection C Region 9 25
Sept. 21-23 Backflow Repair Deltona 10
Sept. 23, 2020 Backflow recerts Deltona 21
Sept. 21-24, 2020 Backflow Tester St. Pete 13
Sept. 24, 2020 Backflow recerts St. Pete 14
Oct. 8, 2020 Reclaimed Water Dist. 1-day Tampa 11paid instructor
Oct. 9, 2020 Reclaimed Water Dist. 1-day Tampa 10paid instructor
Oct. 13, 2020 Backflow recerts St. Pete 15
Oct. 15, 2020 Reclaimed Water Dist. 1-day Tampa 11paid instructor
Oct. 16, 2020 Reclaimed Water Dist. 1-day Tampa 11paid instructor
Oct. 19-22, 2020 Backflow Tester Deltona 31
Oct. 22, 2020 Backflow recerts Deltona 25
Oct. 26-30, 2020 Wastewater Collection C Pensacola 16paid instructor
Oct. 26-29, 2020 Backflow Tester Cocoa 18paid instructor
Oct. 29, 2020 Backflow recerts Cocoa 8paid instructor
Nov. 2-6, 2020 Wastewater Collection C Tallahassee 9paid instructor

Classroom sizes have been limited based on the size of the facility and the
ability to maintain social distancing. Other precautions include wearing masks,
health questionnaires, and taking temperatures.

 What Are We Planned for the Future?

The organization is planning an onsite meeting for the January board of
directors meeting to be held in Plant City on Jan. 23, 2021. This will be our first
onsite meeting since January 2020.

The FWPCOA Short School Committee and training office are planning a
spring short school at IRSC for March 15-19, 2021. The board meeting will be held
on March 14 before the school begins.

We are also looking to continue to build our library of FWPCOA training
manuals and to offer continued training through our Onsite Institute.

We see the future as being bright. We have learned much through the
challenges we have faced through the year in 2020. Our resilience has prevailed
once again, making us better as an organization for the future.

FWPCOA Training Update

We’re still looking for additional venues that can and will accommodate our
training classes. Since school has resumed, we do have some venues opening up,
but we still need to follow social distancing and classroom limits.

We will continue to follow the latest CDC guidelines for conducting training
and are willing to follow any guidelines required by the facility, including off
hours, like nights and weekends.

The training office is in need of proctors for online courses in all regions. If
you are available to be a proctor, please contact the training office at 321-383-

In the meantime, and as always, our Online Institute is up and running. You
can access our online training by going to the FWPCOA website at and selecting the “Online Institute” button at the upper right-
hand area of the home page to open the login page. You then scroll down to the
bottom of this screen and click on “View Catalog” to open the catalog of the many
training programs offered. Select your preferred training program and register
online to take the course.

For more information, contact the institute program manager at or the FWPCOA Training Office at

I personally hope that all of you have a very happy and joyous holiday

That’s all I have for this C Factor. Everyone take care and, as usual, keep up
the good work!

Sponsorship coming soon!