Letter Praises 'Back-End' Sewer and Water Workers

Letter Praises 'Back-End' Sewer and Water Workers

Linda Schick at the Fairhaven (Massachusetts) Wastewater Treatment Plant.

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No industry is more essential than the waster and wastewater sector, but relatively few everyday citizens truly recognize and appreciate the services you’re providing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why it’s so encouraging to see local news outlets acknowledge the sacrifices you're making and publishing positive messages about the work you do.

In its April 23 issue, the Fairhaven Neighborhood News printed a letter from Linda Schick, sewer and wastewater superintendent at the Fairhaven (Massachusetts) Water Pollution Control Facility and West Island Treatment Plant. The New England Water Environment Association named her the 2014 Operator of the Year, and she was profiled by Municipal Sewer & Water magazine in June 2015.

Her open letter thanks her operators and sewer crews, who work in anonymity providing critical infrastructure services. Schick gave us permission to post the letter below, which may serve as inspiration for others who want to remind their local communities of the importance of the water and wastewater sector.

When people take a minute to be thankful, they praise front-line workers who tirelessly keep us safe and fed. These people are recognized for their contribution to the greater good.

I want to take a minute to thank the employees of the Fairhaven Sewer/Wastewater Department. Without praise or recognition, they put their lives on the line daily, enabling customers to flush toilets, wash laundry and shower without flooding their homes with potentially lethal sewage. These essential back-end workers deal nonstop with the threat of not only COVID-19, but hepatitis, typhoid, paratyphoid, bacillary dysentery, gastroenteritis and cholera, but they do not receive praise.

As department superintendent, I have known my operators and crews for 33 years, and watched them do dirty, nasty, gagging jobs few others would consider doing. There are no pizzas, or cookies, or thank-you posters from the school children. Without awards or public recognition, my true environmental protection warriors work tirelessly at the back end, enabling the front end to do their jobs without giving a second thought to where the sewage goes. 

I want to personally THANK, from the bottom of my heart, all these employees for keeping us safe at their own peril. I also want to thank Charlie Murphy, Fairhaven selectman; Pattie Pacella, president of the Fairhaven Rotary Club; and Donna Bosworth, fitness instructor at Dartmouth Total Fitness, for supplying fabric masks so sewer crews can work in public with some protection from their newest enemy — COVID-19.

Linda L. Schick, superintendent
Fairhaven Sewer/Wastewater Department


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