Feed the Cycle

Water and life both flow in a state of constant change.

Feed the Cycle

Water is a cycle, just like life. It rains down and rises back up. Precipitation to evaporation. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

I was walking around Madison one night recently. I saw several Four Lakes Realty signs, passed the Wisconsin WaterFowl Association offices — Wisconsin’s 15,000 lakes provide plenty of habitat — and caught alternating views of Lake Monona and Lake Mendota depending on my direction. There were signs for countless streets, buildings and businesses named for the local waterways. Lakes and rivers are a significant part of the community; they are a part of life. And all life is a cycle.

I was in Madison dealing with my own family’s move through that cycle. My dad made it to 88 before he ever had any major health issues, but things started unraveling quickly after that. I spent most of February and March helping him when he was at my sister’s house and spending as much time visiting as I could when he was in the hospital. Some nights I walked around town, past neighborhoods I’d lived in and places I’d hung out, thinking about how life has unfolded in the 18 years since I left Madison to go home and take care of my mom when she was sick.

Somewhere in those thoughts it occurred to me that there was a sort of poetry in those movements, and a naturalness to the cycle, the push and pull of life and death. And just like the evaporation of water, you rarely see it happening until one day its effects are unavoidable.

That can be said of plenty of the things you deal with on a daily basis. You might not see a sewer main clog ging up, but you can’t ignore it when the blockage finally leads to an overflow. You won’t see a fracture spreading across a waterline, but you’ll know when it breaks. Your systems, like the people they serve, are alive. Every day they age and change, even if incrementally. It’s a continuum. Change is constant, even if you can’t see it on a day-to-day basis.

We talk about water, wastewater and stormwater in this magazine. I tend to think of life like stormwater, requiring constant management to keep it moving safely in the direction you want it to go. There are sunny days and rain, with the occasional storm that makes everything more difficult. You try to keep it from becoming too polluted and allow it to continue the positive cycle. It’s the same with us: Try to stay healthy, do good and keep it all moving forward.

At best we can hope that our time was spent well enough that its impact will carry on. In the water and wastewater world, you know your impact will carry on. How you manage assets and resources, plan for the future and serve your communities will have a long-lasting impact.

Here’s hoping it’s a proud legacy.

Enjoy this month’s issue. 


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