Viewpoint: Celebrate the Water Sector Workforce’s Remarkable Qualities

Water facility managers from Houston Water and Grand Bahamas Utility discuss unsung heroism in the water sector

Turn on the TV, radio, or log on to social media immediately following a large-scale disaster and you find many words of praise and gratitude handed out as a result of the heroic actions of others. You hear these deserved comments speak about selfless individuals or groups who put themselves in harm’s way to offer support by providing food, shelter, transportation, medical support, rescue, or comfort.  

The media often zooms in and provides extra coverage of the brave first responders: police, fire, medical, and military. Not normally mentioned — but putting out equal effort and spirit — are water utility professionals.  

Water workers are unsung heroes who keep the nation’s water flowing, and we are motivated to serve for several reasons. 

Water professionals work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for what is the backbone to our very existence — water. And, like other first responders, there is an unspoken brotherhood and sisterhood. It is woven into the fabric of our DNA and what is unspoken is service. 

We often get asked how we ended up in the water utilities field. The answer is generally something like this: We were chosen by the field and decided that we were right for it. 

This means getting into this field is usually luck but staying in it requires a certain mentality. One must genuinely care about the health and safety of others — as well as the environment — and be willing to do all that is required anonymously.  

While there may not appear to be a reward for working in this sector, this is simply not the case. The reward is knowing we have a job that — if done right — positively affects the lives of millions of people every single day. This is also why we respond to disasters without hesitation, and all of this is what true heroism is made of. This ability and potential to positively affect society on such a large scale makes for an absolutely fulfilling and meaningful career.  
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