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President's Message (C Factor)

FWPCOA Year-End Review for 2019
By Mike Darrow
Posted on 12/1/2019 6:33 AM

Well, my term as the president of FWPCOA is nearly completed, and what a quick two years it’s been. My term is over at the end of this month. My thoughts for the direction of the association during my term was to bolster support to our instructors to serve our members’ training needs, and to try to increase some involvement from our membership at the regional level for events, meetings, and training. Supporting the membership (and membership support!) is so important to FWPCOA.

Instructors are so important to the association and its training program. We have been increasing our instructor base for more training opportunities for certifications and continuing education units (CEUs) for our members across the state. We are continuing to make improvements for new technology to help increase the efficiency of these types programs.

We like working on behalf of the operators, mechanics, coordinators, and technicians to move the profession forward, representing all of these groups across the state on professional and other important issues to further our industry.

Volunteering your time and effort has really helped FWPCOA again this year, so thank you! Our passion for this industry never stops, as I see when I travel and look at water quality facilities, lift stations, backflow preventers, fire hydrants, meter services, and my favorite water storage tanks wherever I go.

The board of directors and members of the operators association had a lot of help in moving the cart forward in 2019 because of the involvement of different committees and talented members who are working on behalf of the membership. I thank you all who work so hard and contribute to our success.

Highlights for the Association in 2019

Some highlights for this year of our members’ hard work include:

  • Development and approval by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Operator Certification program (FDEP OCP) for the Class B wastewater treatment operator license prerequisite course for the state exam by Scott Ruland! Wow, thank you! This class is now online, thanks to Tim McVeigh.
  • The FWPCOA wastewater collection training manual is now completed—on time and under budget! Thanks to Jeff Elder, Rim Bishop, Walt Smyser, and David Pachucki! Great work!
  • Successfully renewed the FDEP contract for being a CEU provider for the operator certification program. Thank you Rim and Shirley
  • The number of instructor participation and training courses given has increased. Thank you instructors!
  • Currently in development is a FWPCOA utility maintenance training manual, using the model of the recently completed wastewater collection training manual. Thanks to Bob Case, Dave, Walt, and Tom King.
  • The on-the-road utility maintenance III class has been a success and a big help to our members and our utilities. Thank you Shirley, Dave, Bob, and Tim!
  • Contributed to the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) Operators Challenge event for water and wastewater at the Florida Water Resources Conference.
  • Worked on a FWEA/FWPCOA maintenance certification initiative.
  • New committee chairs were appointments this year:
    • Kevin Shropshire, Legislative and Rules Committee
    • Scott Anaheim, FlaWARN Steering Committee
    • Peter Selberg, Customer Relations Committee.
  • Executed multi-year agreements with Indian River State College (IRSC) for FWPCOA short schools and supporting hotels, promoting
    long-term stability. Membership levels were maintained, with 5,275 members, which continues to show the strength of our training.
    • Created and filled three honorary life member positions:
    • David Clayton (posthumously), Region 3
    • Renee Moticker and Robert McColgan, Region 7

  • Presented two 50-year membership pins to:
    • Bobby Jones
    • Art Saey
  • Pat Murphy, secretary-treasurer-elect, was elected as the latest operator inductee into the Florida Select Society of Sanitary Sludge
  • Enhanced support for instructors, thus making more training available to members. Thank you again to all the instructors!
  • Hosted March and August short schools at IRSC in Ft. Pierce, with the great success of educating our members.
  • Hosted the FWPCOA annual awards banquet at the August short schools in Ft. Pierce. Congrats to all the winners and thank you
  • Our fine FWPCOA webmaster, Walt Smyser, gave website training and implemented a website-based expense reporting module, and is using technology even better on the website for training registration, news, and events.


The committees are where it all happens internally in the association and here are some updates on committees that I recently received. These dedicated professionals work hard on behalf of the membership to support their discipline or role in the organization. Their guidance and volunteering is so important to success. Thank you all.

Education Committee

This committee does a great job under the leadership of Tom King. The committee's responsibility is to assure the quality of the FWPCOA training programs and instructors. It supplies oversight and guidance to the training coordinator. The committee looks to develop new classes and update others, including using the California State University (CSU) manuals in some of the training. This year’s short schools each trained over 330 students in March and in August and they continue to get better in quality.

Our instructors are wonderful! They are mostly working full-time jobs in their discipline at a utility and volunteering to train folks on their time off for the state and regional training events. This is truly appreciated and admired by us all—thank you!

Shirley Reaves, our training coordinator, has done a great job again this year and we hope to provide even more training in 2020. Thank you, Shirley, for your efforts and coordinating a lot of the classes throughout the state.

System Operators Committee

This committee continues to shine under the leadership of Ray Bordner. The committee set up and instructed multiple wastewater collection and water distribution classes at our state spring and fall short schools. We have conducted on-the-road classes (where training comes to your utility) and are looking forward to providing more of them in 2020. This year, there was an increase of week long classes given on the road in the system operator disciplines of Wastewater Collection A, B, and C, and Water Distribution 1, 2, and 3. Also added was the very popular Utilities Maintenance Level 3.

Awards Committee

The committee is a staple of our association, giving out multiple awards and recognition to our membership. Under the leadership of Renee Moticker the committee continues to do a great job researching and presenting awards, which are given out at the April Florida Water Resource Conference and in August at the FWPCOA awards luncheon. This year over 30 awards were given out to outstanding members—congrats to you all.

Renee reminds you that the deadline is Dec. 31, 2019, for the scholarships to our schools for the 2020 training year. A region can submit two recipients for the scholarship, who must be members in good standing for at least a year. The region selects the award recipients, not the Awards Committee, so what are you waiting for!

Online Institute

The Online Institute, under the direction of Tim McVeigh, has done a spectacular job of developing and managing this training online to anyone who wants knowledge or CEUs and has limited access to local training. Tim started this program a few years back, and now it has grown and continues to serve our membership 24 /7.

He’s looking for help in this process. This could be your chance to get involved, so if you’re interested, contact Tim at New online courses have been developed for certification. Currently, there are 107 courses, including those that provide CEUs and the following popular short courses:

  • Stormwater C, Wastewater Collection C, and Water Distribution Levels 2 and 3\
  • Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator Class B and C
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Class B and C for treatment plant operatorsWastewater Treatment Plant Operator Class A and B exam review Check out for all of your training needs.

Going Forward

We are moving things forward nicely. Our board and committees have done a great job of developing new FWPCOA training manuals, which was brought about due the limited availability of training manuals from CSU. Our new manuals will be out soon for many subject areas and are geared to Florida issues and new and proven methods for our disciplines. The manuals will be a benefit to our members, with a new modern look and more-current information, and a cost savings for printing (versus buying them from CSU). Your involvement in our improvements in FWPCOA is the key to our success!

In my view, we still need to improve, at the regional level, the involvement of regional instructors in different disciplines, and local training opportunities in some regions. We still need regional members to get involved in any way they can, even if it’s just for social events.

The goals we had originally are still relevant looking forward the future. The columns I wrote during my term mainly touch on some of these goals and the direction forward. I sure hope you enjoyed reading them. The fine editor of this magazine sure did help me out on this! Thanks, Rick—you are the best!

My topics for C Factor during my term for 2018-2019 were:

Go with the Flow of Knowledge  Planning and Messaging for the Future 
Willing and Able  1840s: Not a Good Time For White House Water
Ethics are the Fountain   Operator Renewal Time
Conservation and the Future of Water   Americas Water Infrastructure Act
A Guide to Successful Operations   Keeping it Fresh!
Emergency Response Planning   Workforce Sustainability Now and for the Future
Water Towers: Lighthouses of the Landscape   Happy Independence Day!
Your Region Needs You!   Are You Certified?
Your Signature is Your Seal   Your Region Still Needs You!
Lift Stations are Key to Sanitary Sewer Overflow Prevention   PFAS – not your BFF!
Thank You for Your Service!    Silos—Not Just for Corn

Your New President

Kenneth Enlow from Region IV will take over the presidency of FWPCOA in January 2020. I know he will do a great job leading the membership forward. His talents are different than mine (which is a good thing!) and he will be sure to lead us to even more member involvement and success for our association.

My Thanks to You!

It was a pleasure serving you and supporting our profession of operators. Your efforts to help volunteer and support us are tremendous. I want to thank the other associations that help us in our work and mission:

  • Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA)
  • Florida Section American Water Works Association (FSAWWA)
  • Florida Rural Water Association (FRWA)
  • University of Florida Training, Research, and Education for Environmental Occupations (UF TREEO)
  • WateReuse Florida
  • Potable Reuse Committee

I also want to thank the vendors and sponsors for their support of FWPCOA and the regions by giving excellent information to members. Your help is truly appreciated.

I want to thank the members in my own Region X for their support and help during my tenure as president. Thanks to each region’s board of directors for their input and guidance for direction, as well as the fine FWPCOA executive board leading the way to the future. A new addition to this board is Athena Tipaldos from Region XI, where her leadership will be a great contribution. Welcome! And lastly, my thanks goes to my employer, the City of Plant City, and all of the team there where operators, mechanics, technicians, and city support personnel daily exemplify what it means to be professionals. You have done well and helped greatly in carrying out our mission—it’s an honor to work with you all!

You are real “silent sentinels” on guard 24/7, providing water and wastewater treatment and protecting public health and the environment!

We work with Patrick Murphy (the new FWPCOA executive board vice president), who is our chief operator at Plant City and an American-Irish wastewater lad, whose passion never stops in providing operational excellence and high-quality effluent! Cheers, brother!

I wish you all continued success, and also to your utility, company, or firm. Together, we can make a difference for our community, state, and industry. 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all! May God bless you!

See you on the water!