Executive Director's Message

Executive Director Elizabeth Allan

Elizabeth Allan, Executive Director

This Executive Director’s Message briefs you on the work of CWEA’s Board of Directors at our September12, 2012 Board meeting.

FY 11-12 better than expected…

Despite a tough economy and slightly lower attendance at some training events, CWEA continues to maintain financial stability with increasing membership and certification levels and conservative budgeting. After a four-year freeze, we began using part of our Project Fund to invest in maintenance of our infrastructure which had been deferred. For example, we began a two-year project to replace our Association Management System (AMS) and upgraded our computer equipment. Overall, unaudited results show FY11-12 ending significantly better than budget with income slightly over budget and expenses well managed and under budget.  CWEA maintains reserves so that we can weather emergencies and invest in critical projects such as the AMS replacement. CWEA provides members with FY 11-12 audited results, including local section and committee financial activity, after their approval by the Board in January 2013. Watch your E-Bulletin and Wastewater Professional for them.  Meanwhile, see CWEA’s performance measures including our preliminary (unaudited) results in our year-end dashboard.

We have ended the year better than planned for several years in part due to conservative assumptions in our budgeting, so for FY12-13 we held our breath and modified some assumptions to target a more likely end-of-year balance.  We’ll keep you posted on the actual results as the year progresses.

Our new AMS is on track for July – September 2013 implementation…Our high-priority new Association Management System (AMS) is moving forward on schedule and on budget. We are well underway with the design phase of this project, and have identified several related projects to support AMS success: improving the internet bandwidth at the office, doing some housecleaning tasks with our current data before we convert to the new system, identifying member demographics that will be useful to track, and planning for ongoing staff training and development on the new AMS.  We plan to implement the new system in the first quarter of FY 13-14.

Conference net revenue goals for next cycle based on continuing flat attendance…Based on the ongoing tough economy, the Board kept most conference committees’ net revenue goals for the next cycle of conferences at the same levels they have been since FY10-11.   Only the Northern Safety Conference’s goal has been increased to match its actual revenue trends for the past three years.  These goals are net of direct expenses only (e.g. printing, postage, food and beverage AV, etc.) and don’t reflect CWEA’s overhead costs to run these events (e.g. professional staff support, office lease, Web site, insurance, legal, etc.).   Net revenue from the Annual Conference helps make it possible to offer other important conferences our members need, as most of the other conferences don’t break even when the overhead costs are included.   Here are the conference committees’ financial goals (revenue less direct expenses only) for the next cycle of conferences: $374,025 for AC 2014 (in Santa Clara); $25,000 for Northern Safety Conference 2013 (in Woodland); and $25,674 for P3S 2014 (in Southern CA).  Due to uncertainty about the actual revenue from NRTC 2012 when the Board approved the upcoming goals, the Executive Committee was given authority to set the goal for NRTC 2013 (in Modesto) after we receive final NRTC 2012 revenue data.

Early indicators for FY 12-13…It’s far too early to know how this fiscal year will turn out, but we are seeing positive trends for membership and certification.  Conference attendance so far is more of a mixed bag.  In general, full conference registrations have decreased, though one-day registrations are above budget, we continue to have strong exhibitor support, and an eagle-eyed expenditure watch has kept us under budget on costs.   As of the September Board meeting, the excellent Northern Regional Training Conference in Modesto was below its projected budget, while the upcoming Northern Safety Conference was doing well.  Tri-State Seminar registration was strong and exhibitor spaces sold out quickly.  The AC13 team is working on several innovations to ensure that our annual conference is highly beneficial to attendees and exhibitors, including a program track on innovation.  CWEA’s mission to educate, train and certify water environment professionals so that the public and our environment are safe remains critical when economic times are good and when they aren’t so good.

On the personnel front, for Board and staff…Northern Regional Committee  (NRC) Chair and Board member David Stoops has accepted a new job, and will not be able to continue in his NRC or Board positions.  Fortunately, NRC’s vice chair, Steve Caswell, was available for “promotion,” and the Board approved his appointment to the NRC Chair position and to the Board.  We were able to have an effective transition, with both David and Steve present at the Board meeting. On the staff side, Katrina Twaddell, in the Education and Training area, and Elaine Fuller, in the Certification area, have left CWEA.  We appreciate their work for CWEA and wish them well in the future.  Staff is working to fill the vacancies.

State Water Board’s Operator Certification program…The CWEA State Board networks with the State Water Resource Control Board’s Office of Operator Certification, and we have representation on the SWRCB’s Operator Certification Advisory Committee.  CWEA sent a letter to the State regarding the proposed Operator Certification Regulations.  Through diligent collaboration with our Clean Water Summit Partners (CWEA, CASA, BACWA, CVCWA, and SCAP), we were also able to send a joint letter that increases our voice and carries the weight of all of these organizations.  We’ll keep you posted as the State proceeds on the operator certification issue.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of wastewater treatment plant operator certification in California, CWEA’s Board approved a resolution commending the State Water Board and Office of Operator Certification for their efforts to improve and update the program and appreciating our partnership work that allows us to celebrate 75 years of Operator Certification together.  We also commit to working together to build on the foresight, vision and wisdom of the program’s founders to ensure ongoing certification program value, relevance, and validity for future generations. CWEA created the Operator Certification program in 1937. The State Water Board adopted the program in the 1970s when the Clean Water Act was being implemented. We expect to present the resolution to the State Water Board at its November or December meeting, when it is expected to approve amendments to the Operator Certification regulation.

Healthy Waters and Non-Dispersibles letters…Together with other clean water partners, CWEA signed letters to raise awareness of clean water issues to the Congress and to Costco.  The Healthy Waters Coalition encourages the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee to adopt language in a bill that provides agricultural producers access to resources to help better manage nutrient run-off and avoid adverse water quality impacts.  With our Clean Water Summit Partners we sent a letter to Costco addressing the problems encountered in publicly owned wastewater collection and treatment systems from the disposal of items labeled “flushable” that do not rapidly disperse in the sewer system.

New Student Chapter…The Board approved standing rules for a new student chapter at Cal State Fullerton, and recommended the chapter to WEF for status as a WEF student chapter.  We are happy to see more student chapters as we develop the future of CWEA.

Scholarship 2013-14 grant appropriation approved…The Board approved a 2013 total grant appropriation of $15,500 for the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship Fund. The Scholarship Fund is a grant-making program for students who are engaged in the water environment field and who are members of CWEA or sponsored by CWEA members. This is an increase of more than 17% over the award amount last year, is consistent with our financial policy for the Scholarship Fund, and is based on the stabilization and recent growth of the scholarship fund.

Scholarship applications are due on January 15.  Learn more about the Scholarship Fund and download an application form at http://www.cwea.org/cwq_cweaglance_desc_scholarship.shtml.

Donations are accepted any time!  Consider donating or increasing your donation in order to meet the Scholarship Fund’s goal of $500k by 2015.

Nominate candidates for open Board positions by December 20thNominate candidates for the following open CWEA State Board positions by December 20th:

• Vice President (from the North, will be President in third year of a four-year service),
• Director at-large from the South (three-year term),
• Director at-large from the North (serve as CWEA Treasurer in third year of three-year term) and
• Water Environment Federation Director from the North (three-year term starting in October 2013; however, attendance at CWEA Board meetings starting immediately after April election is recommended).

Download the nomination forms, or contact Victoria Rawson at vrawson@cwea.org or 510.382.7800 x 113.

Board revisits assumptions about our relevant future…In preparation for the Board’s strategic-thinking workshop in January 2013, the Board reviewed and discussed its assumptions about our relevant future in CWEA’s strategic plan. Those assumptions are the underpinnings of our strategy and annual planning and budgeting going forward.  The Board groups assumptions into five “buckets”:  Work & Workplace Assumptions, Science & Technology Assumptions, Demographics & Social Assumptions, Economic & Business Assumptions, and Government Regulatory Assumptions.  The Board will be updating our assumptions at our January 2013 Board workshop as well as reviewing our strategic plan progress and discussing measurements.

Dashboards–check out our progress…Check out our Strategy Map Metrics Dashboard to see how the association advanced its mission through key project milestones and measures: one dashboard wrap up FY 11-12 and another takes the first look at our progress in the new fiscal year.   The dashboards track performance indicators CWEA’s Board has identified to measure performance on our strategic plan.

Our Dashboards have become a model for tracking progress on our strategic plan goals.  Several other organizations have requested electronic copies of our Dashboard to use as a template for their own measurement programs.  Once again, CWEA shows its leadership creds!

Next Board meeting…Our next Board meeting will be January 25-26, 2013 in San Diego, CA. Committee quarterly reports, informational items, and requests for Board action are due January 7th.

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