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President's Message (C Factor)

Planning and Messaging for the Future
By Mike Darrow
Posted on 12/30/2018 8:29 AM

Well, its 2019 and Happy New Year to you! I hope you all had a good holiday season. I’m back on the weight-loss plan again this year after all that good food for the holiday!


My main thought going into this year is to thanks the vendors, consultants, and suppliers who work with us in our daily tasks for making water better with their bright ideas and new technology. I want to thank the sponsors of FWPCOA again this year and also the sponsors, vendors, and advertisers of this magazine and the hugely successful Florida Water Resources Conference.


Last year, the operators association saw growth in participation, training, access to customer service, and website usage. Thanks go to some hard-working folks in our organization, like Shirley Reaves, Walt Smyser, Darin Bishop, Tom King, Tim McVeigh, Ray Bordner, Renee Moticker. And thanks also go to all of the members of our board of directors and regional boards, who are helping to move thing along nicely. But more work is needed, so this why we must look forward.


Planning for the Future


At my office at the City of Plant City, now is the time when we start planning our budgets, capital improvement programs, and regulatory compliance for the year. I think about the city’s future and what it needs for the new year, and I’m also thinking about future plans for FWPCOA. As you know, our organization helps support treatment and system operators, technicians, mechanics, and coordinators through training and by fostering cooperation with each other to hone our craft. The association tries to focus on skills and train our members and the industry in successful methods and processes so that the future is enhanced—for the workers and for the profession. Our instructors try to mentor their students on the path to learning for all the disciplines in the industry.


As I see it, when we perform our tasks each and every day we need to keep professionalism in mind. We must do our jobs in ways that meet the high ethics and standards we have set for ourselves (not to mention the regulations set by others) and get the job at hand completed. We all must work together across the state, in every different-sized plant, system, or facility, to support each other and make sure that a primary goal is consistency in all aspects of our jobs.


The FWPCOA has a long history of working with our membership; participation from members across the state, and especially in regional and state training, meetings, tours, and local outings, is key to the future of the organization.


Involvement is paramount for all areas of FWPCOA, and your help is needed. The association is actively looking for more instructors to help pass on their knowledge to others to mentor and train them for the future. Please see the website for the application for instructors at You are needed, and I thank everyone who currently teaches classes for the association.


I truly love working in the water and wastewater industry and am so glad I’ve made it my career. It’s an honor to work with the public, meet the daily demands of our community, and serve all citizens with professional standards and excellent service. These are also common themes within FWPCOA.  


Telling Our Story


Marketing and branding are other areas where we could use some help in the future. We need to get our story out on the positive impacts we make in the daily life of our customers. We are behind-the-scenes workers, so this is a tough task for most of us, but more public outreach—making sure that the public understands the vital role we play in their health and well-being—can help to ensure that our industry has the resources it needs so operators can be more successful in their work. We are licensed by the state of Florida and certified for our roles and disciplines, working together protecting Florida’s waters and providing the necessary natural resources to our community. We must collectively brand this message and disseminate it throughout our communities, the state, and the entire country.


Looking to the future and keeping up with the ever-changing technology of treatment, production, distribution, and collection is challenging. Our organization’s name, Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association, may also need to be branded differently in the future to keep up with these changes. As you know, “pollution” is a dirty word (pardon the pun).  The day may come when we are called something different, due to this word being in the title of our organization. This derogatory connotation may hurt us in the future by having the public seeing our role as negative, instead of positive.


My thoughts on this are to keep things clear and more professional when considering how we present ourselves. A name change is only a topic of discussion right now. Our industry is in the midst of change, including the new emphasis on renewal source water and sustainability. We will need to position ourselves for this future with task changes, increased training, regulatory changes, and different messaging.      


Some possible new names for our organization might be:

  • Florida’s Water Protection and Conservation Operators Association

  • Florida Water and Sustainably Operators Association

  • Florida One Water Operators Association. 


I’m not trying to offend anyone in our membership with these ideas. I enjoy Willing and Able (the two mascots in our logo) and the FWPCOA name, our membership, and our association. In the 1940s, the name of the organization was Florida Water and Sewage Works Operator Association, and in 1964 we changed to our current name to better convey what we do, so you never know what might happen next.


Executive Board of Directors for 2019


As I mentioned, the 2019 election of officers was held at our October 2018 meeting in Jupiter and the results are:

  • Mike Darrow – President

  • Ken Enlow – Vice President

  • Patrick Murphy – Sectary Treasure -Elect

  • Rim Bishop – Sectary Treasurer

  • Scott Anaheim – Past President


This list is full of dedicated operators working on behalf of the membership. We have some great leadership in our association, both at the state and regional levels, and they are all true professionals leading the way for our members and our profession. I thank them for that.  


Our next state meeting is on Jan. 12, 2019, in Fort Myers, which is in Region 8. The board cordially invites all members to attend the meeting and you can visit the website for details and the agenda. See you there!


Continuing Education Units: FWPCOA’s Online Institute


All of our state of Florida operator licenses renew in April of this year. The FWPCOA Online Institute ( is available through our website and is a great place to get low-cost and easy-access training to our membership anytime. We currently have many CEU courses available and offer online short courses, such as:

  • Stormwater C

  • Utility Customer Relations I

  • Wastewater Collection C

  • Water Distribution Levels 2 and 3

  • Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator Class B

  • Water and Wastewater Class C Treatment Plant Operator


Give Me Your Feedback


If you have any thoughts on messaging, forward-thinking ideas for the future, or name-change ideas, feel free to reach out to me at You can also give your input  by attending your local region’s meeting; you can check the regional website or newsletters for meeting times at


Have a great 2019, and remember: Go with the flow!