President's Message

March 1, 2023


Last year we celebrated all of the accomplishments in the wastewater industry in the 50 years since the signing of the Clean Water Act. As we embark on year 51, our membership continues to be on the forefront of a battle to protect human health, while also being stewards of a healthy environment.

Media stories have frequently led with lines like “The chemicals found in wastewater sludge that were trucked to farms across Maine and spread as fertilizer for decades” (News Center Maine) or “Wastewater contaminated with PFAS is flowing into Maine’s rivers” (Bangor Daily News). Since we are passionate about our work, it is hard to take the personal sting out of those incomplete narratives. But that sting also reinvigorated an organization and attracted new talent. It left MeWEA with an opportunity to provide tangible value through our leadership and committees to our broader membership and beyond.

To battle an incomplete narrative, you must change the narrative. In an effort to do so, MeWEA executed a 12 month contract with Black Fly Media. Diana Ichton Nelson has drafted a Key Messaging Document which will serve as our compass for interviews, messaging and testimony going forward. Diana will also review incoming media inquiries and work to get us the right public attention. She states “I know how to talk to reporters because I was a reporter”. Working closely with Diana is the resurrected Public Relations committee (PRC), chaired by new volunteer Evan Pereira. The PRC has a heavy lift, but our goal is to begin to rebrand the Clean Water community as partners to a solution. This year our PRC was provided with a healthy budget in order to retain a PR consultant. That budget was largely covered by contributions from several utilities that see the value our PR campaign will have for the industry on the whole. On behalf of MeWEA, thank you to the utilities sponsoring this campaign: Lewiston/Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority, York Sewer District, Scarborough Sanitary District, Saco Water Resource Recovery Facility, Sanford Sewerage District, Kennebec Sanitary District, Bangor Wastewater Department, Brunswick Sewer District, and Wells Sanitary District.

To effectively rebrand as a partner to a solution, you must be a partner, and MeWEA has been busy. Several board members have been working directly with a stakeholder’s group which includes two bureau directors and the commissioner from the DEP to identify solutions to the impending biosolids crisis. The group has defined a scope for a report that will provide analysis of PFAS treatment technologies and volume reduction methods for biosolids. Members are active also, some have taken tours of biosolids drying facilities, many have taken part in panels or classes, and a few are conducting evaluations of their own facilities. Solutions are on the horizon and, I believe, MeWEA members have been and will be a big part in seeing them to fruition.

MeWEA is constantly evolving to remain relevant. In recent years we have built a relationship with Maine Water Utilities Association that has seen co-sponsorships, collaboration at each other’s conferences and work together in legislative lobbying and testimony. This relationship now also includes our Administrative Services (AS) contract; which we renewed for a second year. The board thanks Bruce, Joan, Cindy and Kate at MWUA for their work over the past couple of years. The board will continue to review our administrative needs and work for the best contract for MeWEA. At our Strategic Planning Session last spring, we forecasted a need to raise dues to afford a more expensive AS contract, PR consultant, and other rising costs. A letter sent in December described the increase effective January 1. Also from our Strategic Planning Session, the Executive Committee has suggested a change to the organizational structure of our board. A letter distributed in early March describes proposed changes that also require changes to our bylaws. The vote to amend MeWEA bylaws will be held at our Spring Business meeting at JETCC’s North Country Convention on April 6th, at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. Your attendance for this meeting and JETCC’s program is appreciated.

All of the veteran MeWEA committee chairs and members, Thank You! Many of you have done the bulk of the heavy lifting for a long time and certainly recently in support of me. Thank you and welcome to new Chairs Evan Pereira (PR), Jen Nicholson (Membership), Sierra Kuun Young (New?) Professionals, and Jodie Keene joining Sarah King as co-chairs of the Stormwater Committee! We are excited for all of the new energy these folks bring to our board. All of our committees are eagerly accepting new members! If you are not already a member of MeWEA, please consider joining; you’re missing out. If you aren’t part of a committee, we’re both missing out. Many hands make light work and the connections that you gain in return pay dividends.

I look forward to continuing to lead this organization with the help of those who have come before me and those soon to come. We have done much, and there is much still to do. Succeeding me, Emily Prescott and Terry Tucker have already done a lion’s share of the work I’ve discussed. MeWEA will be in good hands for a long time to come. I look forward to seeing you in April in Presque Isle, and again on September 20th at Sunday River for golf, and of course, classes the following 2 days! Respectfully, Tim Wade MeWEA President 2023


Presidents Message March 7, 2022

2021 Messages from President Phil Tucker

2020 Messages from President Michael Guethle

2019 Messages from President Stacy Thompson

2018 Messages from President Paula Drouin

2017 Messages from President Matt Timberlake