Cobb County Government

October - December 2017
The Future of Water: Owning Our Story

This article is the written transcript of a speech made by Kathy Nguyen, Cobb County Water System Water Efficiency Program Manager.

Recently, I was asked to talk about the future of the water industry. I chose not to talk about the many challenges and opportunities that come to mind like infrastructure, rate affordability, sustainable water supply, increasing regulations, brain drain, and contaminants of concern. I wanted to focus on the real future of water, you. In my mind, the future of water is about us taking back our own story and telling it over and over until everyone understands the enormous value that we provide every day.

In the last few years a story has been told, but not by us. NRDC, Pur Water Filters, even Web MD are telling a story. This story may get a lot of press. People may be buying into it. This is not our story. What happened in Flint was a tragedy, but it does not define our industry. A young colleague told me she has a friend in the water and wastewater industry who makes up jobs when asked what he does because when he said I work in water they just glazed over and walked away. Of course, I would have followed them and explained why this is the most essential industry to their way of life. Instead of that, I will just try and give you a better answer to that question.

Look around the office today. How lucky are you that when you come in to work you get to work alongside a community hero. I know you may be thinking, “I don’t think so I work them every day and that can’t be true.” But just trust me. We are all everyday water heroes. Look at what we do. Preserving and protecting the environment, making sure there is clean water for diverse habitats and the enjoyment of our citizens. You are the literal foundation of our community. The pipes and plants are the lifeblood of our community. Everything that happens here is built upon it. Our work is the reason our community exists.

The economic prosperity in our community is a direct result of what we do. We are what takes Cobb County from some geographic point on a map to a beloved place we hold in our heart. We make it home. Because of us, children get up and go to school, they pursue an education instead of collecting dirty water.

What do we do? We enable audacious dreams. We make every medical advancement possible and create a healthier community. We ensure there is food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. Because of us, a 13-year-old girl did not have to drop out of school because there was no safe and available sanitation. People talk about the haves and the have-nots and they think that it is about money. The ultimate divide between the haves and have-nots is water.

Just imagine life without us. In my water future, every water provider would walk around with this air of quiet confidence “you’re welcome.” Sitting in a meeting about a new project you just walk in silently thinking, “You’re welcome. Yes, we are here because of me.” Give a little nod. I want to see every water provider strolling through their grocery store nodding as citizens walk by, “getting an orange… you’re welcome. Yes, I made that possible.” This is your story. What did you do today? You made sure that 4,000 kids did not die from exposure to waterborne disease.

A picture hangs in my office. It is a recreation of Indian citizens surrounding an empty well, from National Geographic water edition they did about 7 or 8 years ago. I remember a meeting where we were having some heated discussion about some “immediate crisis”. I had this National Geographic with me and I flipped it open to this picture and said “everything we are talking about is a luxury. The reality of what we do is that we stand in the gap between our citizens and them. That is what we do every day. Every other conversation we have about water and wastewater is a luxury not afforded to hundreds of millions of people.We stand in the gap.” I look at that picture every day. On my best day, I look at it and think “I can’t believe I get to do this every day.” On my worst day, when I might be known to stand in the middle of the office and say, “Doesn’t anyone want to thank us for providing them with clean drinking water and safe sanitation?” I look at that picture and think, “they just don’t know. I can’t believe I get to do this every day.”

So, if none of our citizens have said it. If your family does not rush to surround you at the end of the day like the conquering hero you are. “Thank you. Thank you for standing in the gap. Thank you for all of it.” In closing all those issues we talked about that we mull over and worry about. They are going to be just fine. The future of water is bright and once you own the story and let the secret out there is not stopping you.


Water System Birthdays
October

Richard Henry - 2
Chuck Roshak - 5
Brian Clark - 5
Brett Bass - 5
Jeff Wix - 7
Howard Brown - 7
Avinash Shah - 8
Lon Kennebeck - 8
Jeff Bryant - 9
Kathy Weathington - 9
Rakesh Darji - 10
Tina Owens - 11
Sarah Johnson- 11
Brian Williams - 12
Kelli Phillips - 13
Judy Jones - 14
Mark Maddox - 14
Larry Ford - 15
Michelle Bailey - 15
Steve McCullers - 16
Gordon Fleming - 17
Jennifer Thomas - 17
Donald Williams - 19
Sean Murray - 22
Eddie Williams - 23
Michael Poole Jr. - 23
Jabori Battle - 24
Richard Heying - 24
Laura Williams - 25
Jeffrey Richart - 26
John Henson - 28
Oscar Tromp - 31
William Beasley, Jr. - 31

November

Timothy Kelley - 2
Daniel Machado - 3
Jennifer Longman - 5
Jacob Weeks - 5
Zebulon Holcomb - 7
Gwen Baldwin - 10
Barbara Denney - 10
Matthew Machado - 11
Joshua Callahan - 12
Donald Baker - 15
Andrew Estes - 15
J.J. Campbell - 16
James Lance - 16
Joshua Velilla - 18
Michael Watson - 19
Mark Folsom - 19
Michael Bond - 20
Cody Brookshire - 21
Jonathan Jackson - 21
Victor Ray - 21
Susan Bishop - 25
Robin Joseph - 26
Angie Marcus - 27
Christopher Young - 27
Robert Drake - 30
Paul Hardie - 30

December

Darshaun Johnson - 1
Kimberly Cutshaw - 1
Lisa Gonzalez - 2
Tonise Williams - 4
Jonathan Davis - 5
James Ganues - 5
Susan Rich - 6
Robert D. Martin - 6
William Wilson - 7
Brennon Luster - 8
Alonzo Simmons - 8
Jeremy Eaves - 10
Chuck Youmans - 10
Colton Casteel - 11
Michael Reddick - 11
Cristino Casaleno-Mont - 12
Braxton Foster - 12
George Camp - 13
Gary Davis - 13
Joyce Key - 14
Cary Jones - 15
Lance Hightower - 16
David Scandrett - 16
Christopher Solomon - 16
Michael Leverett - 18
Timothy Johnson - 19
Nia Williamson - 20
Steven Nestor - 21
Christine Rubel - 22
Michael Dial - 26
Harold Huffman - 27
Carolyn Miller - 29

Duane Barrant - Meter Maintenance
Cory Beals - Water Protection
Nathan Brown - System Maintenance
Russell Burchfield - Meter Maintenance
George Camp - System Maintenance
Taylor Dove - Environmental Compliance
Braxton Foster - System Maintenance
Daniel Griffin - System Maintenance
Marco Henderson - System Maintenance
Marcus Henderson - System Maintenance
Patrick Ivey - System Maintenance
Jonathan Jackson - R.L. Sutton WRF
Donomichie Lucier - System Maintenance
Matthew Machado - System Maintenance
Eduardo Pereira - System Maintenance
Christine Rubel - Administration
Rick Ruiz - Noonday WRF
James Tabe - South Cobb WRF
Antonio Thomas - System Maintenance


See the sign, win a shirt!

Be the first to email water_rsvp@cobbcounty.org with the name of the creek and watershed basin for the volunteer group of the quarter and win a WSP T-shirt.

For example, last quarter’s group was Fairfax Consulting. No one guessed last edition’s contest, which was Fairfax Consulting who monitors Powder Springs Creek in the Chattahoochee Watershed.

For this quarter’s contest, look for SG5, email water_rsvp@cobbcounty.org with the creek and watershed name for volunteer group “SG5”. Good luck!

guess who photo
gUESS wHO

Be the first to guess who this Water System employee is and win a prize. To make your guess, email watercommunications@cobbcounty.org.

To be one of our future gUESS wHO spotlights, send your baby pictures to Sabrina Pemberton-Piper, Communications Manager.

jessicaNeely
Congratulations to Tara Carter, Jacobs, for guessing last quarter’s gUESS wHO, Jessica Neely, Communications.


ESPYR New EAP Provider
Employee Assistance Plan

For Information or confidential assistance call: 800-869-0276

Online Access: www.espyr.com password is cobbcounty

The website offers educational screenings, assessments, videos, quizzes, courses, articles, financial calculators, child and elder care service locators and much more. You may even confidentially request EAP services from the site. Topics covered include:

  • Emotional Wellbeing
  • Relationships and Parenting
  • Health and Wellness
  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Personal and Professional Growth

Monthly, live webinars

Espȳr app provides 24/7 access to resources including requesting services.

Download the free app from iTunes or the Google Play Store. Your code is: cobbcounty

Retirement Calculator

An updated retirement calculator for the traditional plan has been added to the pension pages on the county’s external website (a calculator for the Hybrid Plan is in development). The calculator is to be used for estimation purposes only. It is not intended to reflect actual retirement calculations. HR should be contacted at 770-528-2534 to obtain detailed retirement information. Please see the pension document for options that may affect your retirement calculation.

Click here to download the formulated calculator

Request For Pension Estimates

The Request for Pension Estimate form has been updated due to the volume of pension estimate requests received. HR will send estimates to employees within 21 business days from receiving the request.

Also, if you are nearing retirement remember there is a 90-day notice required to commence retirement benefits. This becomes even more important for those planning to retire at year end.

Click here to learn more about Employee Pension on the County's website

Reminders from Human Resources
  • You can access all of Cobb County’s Policies on iCOBB. Go to iCOBB, click on “Policies” and then select the subject you are interested in knowing more about. If you do not have access, please call Stacy Cromer, Department Personnel Representative at 770.419.6284 for assistance on any Human Resource question you might have.
  • If you get married or have a baby, you only have 30 days from the event to make changes to your insurance coverage. Contact your division representative for a Benefits Change form.