We are excited to introduce John Presta as the new President of the WEAO.
Over his career, John has demonstrated rigorous quality standards and a commitment to excellence that are sure to advance the WEAO’s goals and serve our members’ interests.
Water quality has always been top of mind for John. As Director of Environmental Services for the Region of Durham, his team conducted more than 8,000 tests in 2016, demonstrating water quality standards that go above and beyond our legal guidelines. It’s worth noting that since the Walkerton tragedy, standards have tightened significantly.
“Bacteriological quality is the most important aspect of drinking water quality because of its association with water-borne disease,” says Presta, in a recent interview with Durham Radio News. “We have achieved 99.8 per cent compliance for bacteriological samples, which is a very impressive rate.”
John isn’t just an integral part of Durham’s water systems: as incoming WEAO President for 2017-2018, he’ll have a central role overseeing all of the activities for the Water Environment Association of Ontario over the next year.
The Association serves 1,300 technical and professional members, all of whom are dedicated to preserving Ontario’s water environment. The WEAO has a holistic approach to the water environment industry: it shares technical knowledge among water professionals, increases water issue awareness, promotes advocacy, and hosts exclusive networking events for its members. This work bridges the unique gap between professionals across the water and environment industries of Ontario.
John’s leadership is built on hard work and experience across a variety of engineering roles. After graduating from civil engineering at the University of Toronto, John entered the field as a consultant. Only a few years later, he joined the Region of Durham as a Junior Engineer, where his career flourished for the next twenty-seven years.
In 2012, John attended Western University and earned his Masters of Public Administration. He describes the program as one that is geared toward students interested in the business of managing local government, which he’s finding useful now as President of the WEAO. For four years, John was enrolled part-time while simultaneously working for the Region of Durham and maintaining his family life. All this hard work has clearly paid off, as he’s currently serving as the Director of Environmental Services for the Region of Durham.
John’s long-term planning mirrors his approach to the future of the WEAO. His first order of business is to collaborate with fellow board members to develop a three-year strategic plan that will build on the last one, which included a new website, developing a wider social media presence, and creating an online membership purchasing system.
An important part of the plan development process will include involving a variety of stakeholder voices to enrich the WEAO’s mandate. John is interested in pursuing opportunities to run surveys and do focus group consultations to build a useful and impactful plan that addresses the Association’s members. “We hope that we develop a strategic plan that will have operational actionable items, so we can really implement them, instead of just nice words that sit on a shelf,” he says, in an interview for the WEAO.
John intends to champion the water environment across associations, industries, and people. He adds: “We want to increase exposure to the Association, not only to the water environment industry but also to other associations. We want to continue to increase our membership and attendance to the conference and add on successful events like the Utility Management Forum.”
With the conclusion of the annual WEAO Conference and OPCEA Exhibition in April, John’s next move is to put together a thorough plan to benefit all members of the WEAO. We are excited to have him on board and look forward to seeing where he drives the future of the organization.
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