Another Successful Florida Water Resource Conference and Now It’s Time to Turn Our Focus to Storm Season
The Florida Water Resource conference held this year in West Palm Beach with a record number of vendors and attendees. It was great seeing all the teams compete in the Operations Challenge and Top Ops and I love that there were more teams again this year competing and the competition was very close. I’m going to be a homer here and give a shout out to the team from the utility that I retired from this past January because I promised if either team placed first or second I would recognize them in my article. Way to go to JEA’s team Fecal Matters on placing second overall by the smallest of margins. I remember when we first decided to send a couple of teams back in 2014 we let them pick their names and this is what they wanted. Anyway, good luck to both teams 1st Place St Cloud and 2nd Place JEA as they move on to the nationals. Tom King did an excellent job of hosting the Operators Showcase on Sunday afternoon which covered topics that effect operators such as the latest update on the Operator Licenses Computer Base Testing and where FDEP is with it right now. I will be asking everyone to go to our website further down in this article to assist us with collecting information on cost so please do this. The Showcase was right next door to the FWEA’s one idea that popped into Tom’s head as we were waiting to get started and watching the college students sneak in to grab a beer was to have them present their projects to us. It really was a great idea and I believe they got a lot of it too because we are the people who operate and make the systems work so who better to beat them up on a bad design. Next year the conference will be held in Daytona and hopefully we can keep the momentum going and have another great and successful conference.
We have made it through the license renewal cycle and the conference so what’s the next big item coming our way? Yep, it’s time to get ready for storm season. This year has already started with such dry weather and fires throughout the state which doesn’t help as we move into June and the start of storm season. Florida has been lucky over the decade when it comes to the severity of storms that we have faced. Last year’s storm Matthew that scraped northeast Florida was not what you would have called a major storm but it showed many utilities weren’t as prepared as they thought they were. One problem management makes when reviewing what went right and wrong after the storm response is not involving the field employees who are the ones trying to move pumps and generators to the right locations to provide service. Many times utilities end up wasting money on creating contracts and emergency plans for staged equipment when setting down with the operations folks to work out SOP’s that will work ten times better and save the utility money and embarrassment when the vendor cannot react as they promised. Now is the time to look at contingency plans, dust off old contact information, and ensure that the same people still work at the utility that are the contacts for FLWarn. Operators need to update their contact information and look at their family action plans too so they are ready because many times we don’t get a ton of lead time before responding. There is not perfect answer or plan that can be used to prepare for a storm especially when a storm can crisscross the state so equipment and manpower can be limited. The best option is to work with your each other to address the needs and when equipment or manpower can be spared to relinquished it so another community can get service restored to their customers and avoid environmental impacts as much as possible. Take advantage of any hurricane exercises and send a representative because they can come back with a wealth of knowledge that could be very useful for future storm response.
As I stated earlier the FW&PCOA needs your help in collecting information on costs associated with the FDEP operator’s license exams. Please go to our website and complete the survey and the information will be used to assist us with getting the CBT back on track.