Chad Meyer, President PeopleService
It’s something we take for granted every day – when we wash our clothes, look after our lawn and every time we turn on a faucet or drain the sink – water simply appears or disappears at will.
PeopleService Ambassador Dennis White knows it’s not as simple as that. A veteran of the water and wastewater industry for more than 40 years, he, more than anyone, has witnessed the dedication and expertise it takes to keep everything safely flowing in and out of our homes and communities.
Now he has started a campaign to recognize all of those committed water and wastewater workers in a unique way. He wants the U.S. Postal Service to honor the industry and all those who work in it with a dedicated stamp or collection of stamps. And he’s got over 300 signatures to support his initiative.
It’s something Dennis feels passionate about. “People start their day without giving a thought to where their clean water comes from or where it goes and what happens to it when it is used and sent down the drain. They just turn on a faucet and safe clean drinking water appears. We use it to drink, cook, wash and do thousands of other things. We then put all kinds of things in it like chemicals, oil, grease, waste, etc. and send it down the drain or sewer and never think about it again – assuming it will all be treated and magically clean again.
“That’s what the people in the water and wastewater industry do every day and have been doing for over 100 years. They protect us in so many ways that the average person doesn’t know or understand.”
However, much of that awareness has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers in the industry were quickly declared “essential workers” and protectors of public health.
One of the key elements stressed when seeking to protect yourself from the virus is to consistently wash your hands. This couldn’t have happened without the dedication of so many in the industry – many who have even lived at their plants to minimize the risk of infection to themselves and their families – and to assure the vital service keeps operating to help keep their communities safe.
“While health workers and others have rightly been recognized for being on the front line in the fight against the pandemic, without the water/wastewater professionals providing their services, hospitals would not be able to properly sanitize their equipment, wash their hands or provide safe drinking water,” says Dennis.
It has been that way for centuries as clean and safe water is the marker of a civilized world. Some of the first methods of improving drinking water can be traced back to early 4000 BC when methods to transport, improve taste and odor were first used.
Dr. John Snow, who was born in York, England, proved Cholera was a waterborne disease when he sourced it from a well that had been contaminated by sewage. But it wasn’t until 1900 that it was discovered that by treating water and reducing turbidity (the amount of foreign particles contained in water) that dangerous microbial contaminants such as Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery were also reduced. The first actual municipal water treatment plant was created in Scotland soon after.
And the first continuous use of a chlorine water treatment plant system was in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1908.