Insightful Article written by CWS State Manager Clarence Wittwer in Texas Water Utilities Association Magazine: “Why I Do What I Do”

Clarence Wittwer serves as CWS State Manager in the states of Texas and Arizona. He is also the President of the Texas Water Utilities Association. Take a minute to read his message on what the water and wastewater treatment industry means to him, found in the January edition of the TWUA Magazine:

I want to lay out exactly what the water and wastewater treatment industry means to me and why I stay in this industry. I hope that many of you reading the article can nod your head along in agreement. Honestly, the “WHY” of what we do might be one of our biggest hurdles. After all, a graduating High School Senior does not want to hear “because”, they have been hearing that from their parents for years. They will not respond well to the idea either if we jump right into the dirty aspects of the job, both physical and emotional. That is right, emotional. I think most veterans of our industry can agree that we are beat down more often by residents and customers (and occasionally our own employers) more than we are by the grime, heat, and exhaustion.

I know I speak regularly at district meetings and Day Schools about how the aspect of serving and being a part of something bigger is a major idea for our next generation workforce but honestly, isn’t it the reason most of us do what we do? Many of us have been doing this work for many decades. In fact, our industry is expecting to lose between 30% and 50% of the workforce in less than 10 years. Despite these scary numbers, many of us will stay on long after we are eligible to retire. We might leave a long-time employer in favor of another but there will be a huge shift in one direction or another.

So why would we do that? To serve. Plain and simple. We clearly do not do it for money, recognition, or any other selfish reason. In fact, most veterans in this industry like to say that the industry chose them, they did not choose the industry. I personally identify with that sentiment. I was going to be a classically trained tubist for a major symphony somewhere. Period. It was my dream, and I had no other thought. Then of course, life happened. I had a family and needed to work. Playing a tuba for a symphony does not exactly pay the bills so I took a job at a small municipality near Houston because my uncle worked there. In fact, it was so small, we were the only two public works employees. A year later I moved to a larger city next door and six months after that I was transferred to the utility department where I began reading water meters and working at the wastewater treatment plant.

Slowly, I forgot about that symphony dream. I did go back to school much later in life and get a degree in music, I even studied under David Kirk of the Houston Symphony on my own time, but this industry does not let you go. It is the trivial things every day. The way utility and municipality co-workers took care of my young but broke family during the Holidays. The way I felt after helping a resident with a small water leak or the feeling of accomplishment after working in a hole for hours to get a clamp on a pipe. Having my employers pay for my school was also huge. The scholarships I was awarded by the V.M. Ehlers were life changing. There is no way I could have afforded to take the classes to get my operations licenses. Let us not forget about the friendships and comradery through our various professional associations. I have met people through the Texas Water Utilities Association and other organizations that have become my family. I have driven hundreds of miles for graduations, weddings and unfortunately for funerals.

These trivial things above may seem silly to someone on the outside looking in but to those of us that live and love our industry, they are the answers for every “why” as well as the examples we provide when we are asked “are you crazy?” We are all a little crazy in this industry, especially on those days that we are covered in filth, exhausted from being in a hole all day making a stubborn repair or even after being cursed at by an angry resident. So, if you are reading this as a new operator or trying to convince a potential candidate and they say that working with crazy people does not sound desirable, then remind them of the line from Alice in Wonderland: “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here.”

Also remember that in our industry we are stronger together than many others.

We perform one of the most vital services on the PLANET.

We are regularly surrounded by strangers that become not just our friends but our family. We ARE Water Professionals and THAT is the WHY.

Ray Gibson

CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, GA
With your oversight, the City’s water and sewer operations have greatly improved. CWS clearly understands the needs of the City, its operations, and our desire to provide a first-class interaction with the citizens of Fayetteville. Your organized approach and effective communication allow for key decision-making in providing cost-effective solutions required on all water and sewer-related projects. I greatly appreciate your team’s attention to detail and quality and look forward to our continued partnership.

Bobby Marr

CITY OF ST. MARYS, GA
The knowledge, dedication and professionalism of the Clearwater Solutions personnel has turned our plant operations around completely since they were hired by the City. They have taken our wastewater treatment plant from chronic monthly violations to violation free for the past several months! It truly feels like a partnership instead of just another contracted service.

Ramona Morgan

CITY OF GAUTIER, MS
Clear Water Solutions and their team of qualified professionals go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to the water and sewer needs of the City of Gautier and its residents. Clear Water works quickly and diligently in response to any water or sewer issue in the City. Clear Water Solutions has provided a high quality service in a professional manner to city staff and the citizens of Gautier.

MAYOR PATTIE DENISON

TOWN OF WALLS, MS
CWS, Mark Pressgrove, and his team of professionals always go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to the needs of the Town of Walls’ sewer system and our residents. CWS is always quick in response to our sewer issues and determining the problem in a swift manner saving the Town time and money. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their services to anyone.

SRIKANTH YAMALA

HALL COUNTY GOVERNMENT, GA
ClearWater Solutions, LLC has gone above and beyond in operating and maintenance of the Hall County sewer system of 0.75 MGD plant, 19 pump stations and over 350,000 LF of mains. They have provided a high quality of customer service to both Hall County staff and its citizens. I strongly recommend them for anyone who’s looking to hire an outstanding O&M company.