Lessons from a Pandemic: CWEA’s Board Shares What They’ve Learned 

Wastewater Life

(l-r) CWEA Board members Kathryn Gies, Debi Lewis, Ken Merkle, Brian Peck, Brian Villacorta and Kody Tompkins.

It was inspiring to see our community work together to help each other out. We’ve learned some important lessons. We did not have enough cleaning supplies and PPE to get us through the pandemic, and adjusting to social distancing is tough.” 
– Kody TompkinsCWEA WEF Delegate DirectorCity of Barstow

I learned when something as big as the pandemic hits, the community rallies together to help each other beyond all expectations. I completely trust that we will get through this, though what our world looks and feels like may never be the same.
I also learned that having a child graduate college during this time is emotionally difficult, and trying to remain positive about the future is not as easy as one thinks. 
We are all learning and adapting to a new normal way of workingwhether it’s on Zoom, Teams, WebEx, or Skype or just social distancing on the job. We are going to make this work. 
–   Ken MerkleCWEA Treasurer 2019-20, City of Tracy 

I work well from home and have time for more contemplationStepping away from the computer for physical and emotional well-being during the day is so important.
This pandemic has wreaked havoc on many workers and the businesses that cannot survive in ‘lockdown’. The pain from waiting for an effective vaccine is only weighed against the potential loss of life from ineffective containment of the virus.  
–   Debi LewisCWEA-WEF Delegate Director, Stantec 

I’ve witnessed the resiliency of equipment manufacturers who continue to support and supply equipment for water infrastructure. They were able to remain open and meet delivery schedules. 
The learning curve with Teams and Zoom is steep. Whoops, did my kids just walk across the background? Am I on mute or can you hear my dog barking? What is Zoom etiquette, are shorts ok?
Prayers and blessings for all the front-line workers keeping our communities safe and keeping clean water flowing.“ 
–   Brian Villacorta, CWEA Director from the South, Combs Hopkins 

We live in an amazing state filled with people who care about each other and are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. The downside is not being able to connect with everyone, our industry thrives on the synergies realized by sharing ideas and knowledge.
A big THANK YOU to all those professionals on the front lines keeping our communities safe and our waterways clean!” 
–  Kathryn Gies, CWEA Director from the North, West Yost 

I’m involved in CWEA’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) and Student Design Competition (SDC). I was concerned the cancellation of science fairs and in-person competitions would be devastating. However, I witnessed students readily complete their projects and adapt to new circumstances. Today’s young adults have the resiliency and creativity to thrive in trying times. 
On February 10th I began a new career with Carollo Engineers. The biggest challenge for me has been connecting to a new job under very disconnected circumstances. However, Carollo has made great efforts to communicate, provide online forums, and maintain the effectiveness of project teams.
This pandemic will come to an end. Hardships lie ahead, but so many things will be learned. The impacts on how we live and how we do business could be sweeping.” 
–  Brian Peck, CWEA-WEF Senior Delegate, Carollo