Letters - December 2013

About Building a Bridge

In response to your October column (“Building a Bridge,” Let’s Be Clear), I have been in the wastewater/water field for over 30 years. While I can’t share an experience that involved employing a former inmate, I can comment as the father of one.

It is not just our industry that needs to pay attention to this issue, but the workplace in general. There are many young men (and women) just like my son who are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, primarily due to a substance addiction in one form or another, and who are facing very limited employment prospects upon their release.

There need to be more opportunities for these young people to become productive members of society, including in our industry, after they have “paid their debt.” If not, many will fall back into their old lives and end up back in prison. Granted, with the economy in its current condition, there are many folks looking for work who don’t have criminal records. But if you can employ a former inmate who happens to be a trained operator, why not take a chance? Better they be paying taxes than supported by them.  

Dane Martindell
Facilities Manager
Western Monmouth Utilities Authority
Manalapan, N.J.

Why Mess With Names?

You publish a great magazine, but I have an issue with calling us “clean water” people. It is as if we were ashamed of what we do and need to change our name. I can tell you, our staff is proud to be operating a “wastewater treatment” plant and to work for a “sewer district.” The local water district operates the “clean water” plant.

It’s as bad as the Water Environment Federation, which has decided that we now operate “water resource recovery facilities.” You can put whatever spin you want on it, but it still comes down to wastewater. No matter what name you change it to, the new name will eventually become synonymous with “poop” and then carry its own negative impression.

As a society we went to “mentally challenged” from the old “you-know-what.” But pretty soon, “mentally challenged” will become a negative term in its own right, and they will have to come up with another. Why? Because a rose by any other name is still a rose. A wastewater treatment plant and operator, by any other name, is still a wastewater treatment plant and operator.

Call it what it is, and make the profession proud. We will be regarded as professionals by projecting a professional image in the way we conduct ourselves and do our work. If we look and act as professionals, the world will have no choice but to look at us and treat us as professionals. A new name does not automatically confer respect. We have to earn it.

There is a reason why I wear a dress shirt, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes to work. The image I project is the image the public then confers back on my organization and its staff.

Thank you,

Leonard Blanchette
General Manager
Brunswick Sewer District
Brunswick, Maine


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