The Only Measure That Matters

There’s always more to do, but moving your utilities forward is what really counts.

Forty-seven years ago next month I was born, the third (and last) child of Marilyn and John Laggis.

I have an older brother who’s a teacher, and my sister — the oldest — has had a long and successful career in sales. I think I’ve known since early in high school that whatever I did would probably somehow involve writing. But I can assure you I never had a long-range plan to be editor of a magazine for the sewer and water industry. That was a just a pleasant surprise along the way.

I’m sure there are a few of you who knew as children that you’d one day work on sewer and water systems, but I doubt that’s the case for many of you. The fact that you didn’t make it to the NFL, become an astronaut or follow in the footsteps of Edward Van Halen doesn’t take away from any of the achievements in your life. I haven’t written a book yet; I’m the editor of MSW, not Rolling Stone. But I like putting this magazine together. I like this industry. And I’m proud of the fact that I have a successful career doing something I enjoy. That’s the only measure that matters to me.

I think the question “What did you want to be when you were younger?” is a loaded one. Almost any way you answer frames your present career as a letdown. The better question, in my opinion, is what do you want to be a few years from now? How do you want to build on what you’ve done to this point?

It’s the same for your utilities. What benchmarks are you trying to meet? You’ve no doubt done some good work, but maybe you still have some lead service lines in the ground (check out the feature on Louisville Water in this issue) or stretches of failing sewer line. Maybe you’ve made great strides in reducing water loss but aren’t quite where you want to be yet. Or maybe you have a seemingly insurmountable backlog of work, but you’re putting together a 10-year plan to address deficiencies. Sometimes where you’re at isn’t as important as where you’re headed.

We’ve featured a lot of utilities in this magazine. Most have accomplished great things, but none have completed their work. There’s always more to do, and I think if you always keep that mentality it’ll serve you and your utilities well. Appreciate today, of course, because it’s not just a preamble to tomorrow. It has an impact.

You’re in a position that’s as important as it gets. Clean water and proper sanitation are bedrocks of community health. Emergency room doctors will be the subjects of more TV shows, but they don’t affect the health of as many people as you do on a daily basis. That’s why every day is so important in this industry.

It doesn’t matter what you wanted to be as a kid. It matters what you are now, and where you and your utilities are headed is even more important.

Enjoy this month’s issue. 

Comments on this column or about any article in this publication may be directed to editor Luke Laggis, 800-257-7222;


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