Keeping Pace at Your Utility

The work never stops, and once you fall behind it’s easy to get stuck in catch-up mode

There’s a story about backflow prevention in this issue of Municipal Sewer & Water. Backflow prevention is important, but it goes beyond your water systems.

Think of backflow prevention as the gate between progression and regression. No one — and no project or process — moves continually forward at a constant pace. There are dips in momentum, and at those low points, it becomes much easier to slip backward instead of preparing for the next surge forward.

In a water system, whatever backflow prevention device you’re using prevents water that has entered a private system from flowing back into your utility’s distribution system. It’s designed to prevent potential contamination. Simple and effective.

In life, backflow prevention isn’t as simple as installing a valve. There’s no universal solution or failsafe that allows you to keep progressing without fear of regression. It takes vigilance and constant effort. You have to work. You have to take care of yourself physically and mentally.

Professionally, you have to apply these strategies to your utilities as well. In addition to the mechanical devices that prevent literal backflow in your systems, you have to fight figurative backflow in your overall operations. It’s easy to complete a project or reach a goal and then back off. When you focus and push until you complete the task at hand, it’s only natural to want to relax a bit. But relaxing immediately puts the next deadline or goal in jeopardy.

It happens to me all the time with deadlines. Once I miss a deadline, I’m taking time away from the next deadline. Pretty soon I’m operating in catch-up mode, and all the planning I’d like to do gets put aside to take care of the urgent things that should have already been done. And then, suddenly, another deadline is right in front of me and there’s even less time for the next issue. The same amount of work has to get done regardless, because the magazine has to go to print, but it becomes impossible to give everything the attention it deserves. Ultimately, if I don’t get things back on track in a hurry, the magazine suffers.

Your jobs are challenging, and the work never ends, so there really isn’t time to take it easy. Emergencies are inevitable, so even if you’re on schedule, you can be thrown off by the urgency and extra work of repairing a ruptured water main or containing a sanitary overflow. How many times have you put routine yet critical tasks like cleaning, maintenance or valve exercising on hold to deal with a leak or overflow? In the best-case scenario, you get a little behind schedule, remedy the immediate problem and get back on track. Worst case, that delayed maintenance keeps you perpetually chasing problems and unable to ever get into a proactive mode.

That’s the real common ground between your jobs and mine — nothing ever stops. You can never kick back and relax without consequence.

The difficult days are the ones where you can only hope to stay on track. The easy days are the ones where you have a chance to make progress. Take advantage when the opportunity is there.

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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