Water and Sewer District Brings Operations Challenge to the Public

Employees get the unique opportunity to showcase their talents in front of family, friends and the community.
Water and Sewer District Brings Operations Challenge to the Public
A team of four NWWSD employees re-enacted different challenge events performed at state and national conferences at the agency's annual open house.

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Jerry Greiner, president of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District in Bowling Green, Ohio, admitted it’s not always easy for his employees to explain to family and friends what they do.

“You could say, ‘I had to do a confined space fix today on a pipe’ and no one really understands,” he says.

With that in mind, NWWSD used its May 1 open house at its administrative headquarters to demonstrate to community members some of the skills its employees use while on the job. Greiner says a team of four employees re-enacted different challenge events performed at state and national conferences.

“For many family members, this is the first time they saw their dad, son or brother do the skills they perform daily on the job,” he says. “It’s exciting they’re able to share that. What we did really mirrors some of the activities done on a typical day.”

During the open house, more than 300 people watched employees perform two activities. The first was a safety event including a bi-level setup in which a confined space was set up to replicate a rescue of a downed mannequin during a timed event. The second was the re-enactment of a mechanical pump repair using a Godwin-brand pump that needed its seals, filter and grease replaced.

“It was a great opportunity for our employees to demonstrate the challenging conditions in which they work under each day,” says district field superintendent Dan Wickard.

Greiner says NWWSD is different from most other water and sewer organizations since it is set up as a 6119 under the Ohio Revised Code and was created to take over the duties of the Wood County sanitary engineer.

Created in 1994, the district serves more than 19,000 water and sewer customers in northwest Ohio, primarily in Wood County and a portion of Sandusky County. NWWSD employs 65.

“We saw how some electric co-ops had open houses as outreach efforts and we thought that was a good model,” Greiner says. “We wanted to use the open house as a way to communicate helpful information to our customers.”

The open house included a free barbecue lunch, kids’ activities, a fishing derby and several vendors sharing information on different topics, such as the environmental benefits of limiting personal water usage. NWWSD also shared highlights from the past year in a display.

As for adding the skills challenge to the open house, Wickard has run similar events at state and national conferences for more than 20 years and thought it would educate community members about the work done by the district’s employees.

This is the second year that NWWSD included the skills challenge at its open house. Last year, a team from Bowling Green’s Utilities Department was invited to compete alongside the district’s employees.

“Everyone had a lot of fun with that,” Greiner says. “It was a great experience. We were excited to have another fun-filled event this year.”


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