UWGB Partners in Water, NEW Water, Recognized by Governor

May 22nd Declared Wastewater Professionals Appreciation Day

Wisconsin State Governor Tony Evers has proclaimed May 22 as Wastewater Professionals Appreciation Day, in recognition for their critical role in public health, as well as the Wisconsin Wastewater Monitoring Program.

In Northeast Wisconsin, community leaders offer commendations to NEW Water, the brand of the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District, which has served the community for more than 90 years.

“The NEW Water team’s tireless efforts safeguard our environment, support economic development, and protect public health with a professionalism that often goes unseen. Today, let’s extend our deepest gratitude to these unsung heroes who protect our community’s life-sustaining waters. Thank you, NEW Water, for your vital role in keeping our community thriving,” said Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach.

In 2023, NEW Water cleaned more than 15 billion gallons of water for Northeast Wisconsin. That equates to the volume of about one Lambeau Field, per week. This 24-7-365 service enables the community to flush the toilet, do the dishes, and run their businesses whenever they want.

“I am continually humbled by the dedication of our team. Rain, snow, sleet, or shine, they ensure the protection of our most valuable resource, water,” said Tom Sigmund, P.E., Executive Director of NEW Water. “This recognition of wastewater professionals is not just a gesture of gratitude; it is acknowledgement of the profound impact of their service to this community.”

Wastewater and Pandemic Research: “Science Fiction”

In addition to recognizing the critical role that wastewater plays in protecting public health, the proclamation also lauds wastewater professionals’ participation in the Wisconsin Wastewater Monitoring Network.

Scientific research into wastewater in COVID-19 began quickly after the pandemic struck, and has become an important indicator for public health across the U.S. NEW Water was invited to join the study in early 2020. Sigmund, an engineer and past president of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, reflected that had someone asked him about this kind of scientific research with wastewater prior to the pandemic, he would have called it “science fiction.”

“NEW Water was an early partner in the COVID-19 in wastewater study, and had already been collecting samples before we even invited them to join on. NEW Water’s forward-thinking approach to protecting public health is truly commendable,” said Dr. Sandra McLellan, Distinguished Professor, School of Freshwater Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “The collaborative efforts of wastewater utilities in Wisconsin have positioned our State as a national leader in implementing this new and innovative approach to disease surveillance. The program is a testament to how interdisciplinary cooperation can drive impactful solutions. I commend these public servants for their pivotal role in shaping the future of research to protect public health, and our freshwater resources.”

“Wastewater operators are indispensable. They operate complicated equipment necessary to manage physical, biological, and chemical treatment processes.  This is not a simple endeavor and they have to be extremely skilled and knowledgeable in order to make the system operate on a 24-7-365 basis. Without these talented people, we don’t have the services required to be a truly sustainable community,” said Dr. John Katers, Dean, College of Science, Engineering, and Technology, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “This recognition of wastewater workers is well deserved. Congratulations to NEW Water Team for this important designation and your continued commitment.”

NEW Water continues to participate in the program (learn more from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services). Learn more about NEW Water’s response to COVID-19 here

Sanitation: ‘Greatest Medical Milestone’

Modern sanitation and wastewater treatment are responsible for reducing diseases such as cholera, which was prevalent in Wisconsin, with epidemics sweeping the state in the 1800s (Wisconsin Historical Society: Diseases and Epidemics in Wisconsin).

The British Medical Journal declared that sanitation is the most important milestone in more than a century and a half (Reuters: “Sanitation ‘greatest medical milestone’ since 1840″).

NEW Water is a water resource utility serving more than 238,000 people in Northeast Wisconsin through pollution prevention, operational innovation, and community outreach. NEW Water is a wholesale provider of services to 15 municipal customers, throughout a 285-square mile area. NEW Water was established in 1931; see a glimpse of NEW Water’s history here.

Source: May 22nd Declared Wastewater Professionals Appreciation Day

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