Operators Without Borders (OWB), an international non-profit registered in Canada, received a donation of $5,000 USD from the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC). The donation supported two deployments of volunteers that helped water and wastewater utilities in developing countries recover from disaster situations.
“Many countries are challenged in providing their people with safe water and wastewater management, especially in post-disaster situations,” said Ron Enns, an EOCP certified operator and manager of business development at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “By funding certified operators from Canada and the U.S. to help build, install, and maintain their systems, we can achieve that basic need.”
“Through education and hands-on demonstration, even the most desperate and struggling country can begin to provide clean water and wastewater treatment to its people,” added Enns. “Operators Without Borders provides the necessary help to accomplish that goal and can bring a future to those in desperate need of safe water and wastewater management.”
The very first deployment for OWB, which was undertaken by Canadian operators, was to Dominica in 2017 after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The most recent deployment was in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas where parts of Grand Bahamas and the main city, Marsh Harbour, in Abaco were wiped out. An initial deployment team put together a schedule for the teams that followed. In all, five teams were deployed and gave a total of 17 weeks of volunteer time.
For this effort, the Canadian team was joined by U.S. volunteers. The teams assisted local utilities in conducting ongoing sampling at wells for salinity, helped the geologists and hydrologists locate new water sources, and worked with other NGOs to build and maintain emergency reverse osmosis systems. They also cleaned up work sites made unsafe by the hurricane damage and advised in other areas as requested.
“It is important for water professionals to get involved and share their knowledge, skills, and training,” said Todd Saums, a certified operator at the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. “Water and wastewater services are vital to human life and basic needs. Trained professionals are a necessity in this field of work.”
The OWB Board is incredibly grateful to all the volunteer operators who give so selflessly of their time, and the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) for making it possible for the volunteers to be deployed on missions.