Gary Burrows has been involved in the WEAO for over twenty years.
His journey began with the Ops Challenge and a big victory just south of the border. Representing Ontario as a competitor at WEFTEC 1997, his team won the Division 2 Championship the following year—and eternal bragging rights.
Since then, he’s been President of the Association and a member of the Board of Directors. He’s also sat on several committees, including chairing the Ops Challenge committee. Currently, in addition to being the Professional Wastewater Operators Board Representative, he’s on three others.
“Our provincial association is definitely unique,” he said. “Members represent every facet of the wastewater field: operators, equipment suppliers, and consultants. And our structure is representative of that, all the way up to our board membership.”
The result? For one, the spread of specialized knowledge across different disciplines. Finally, the development of a repository of information that accurately reflects the expertise of all wastewater professionals. For Gary, that’s always been one of the big benefits of WEAO membership.
“It’s opened my eyes up to lots of other wastewater facilities, and it’s been a huge resource in terms of the local and international technical knowledge it’s provided me with. As a result, it’s helped me make my workplace more efficient.”
Outside of the WEAO, Gary is Supervisor of Operations at the City of London’s Wastewater Treatment Division where he manages pumping stations, oversees operator certifications and training, and co-chairs health and safety.
Given his significant role and his activity in the WEAO, he’s in a unique position to talk about two exciting events taking place in London this spring: The Membrane Bioreactors Seminar and Oxford Plant Tour, March 16; and, of course, the 2018 WEAO Technical Symposium and OPCEA Exhibition, April 15-17.
The Oxford Pollution Control Plant represents just one aspect of London’s unique wastewater capabilities. At one point, Oxford was the largest membrane bioreactor plant in the country. The guided afternoon tour will offer students and young professionals a rare opportunity to experience its operations firsthand. An in-depth seminar exploring its operating system will occur at Western University in the morning.
“Oxford offers high-quality treatment, and over time it’s going to become more efficient than the alternative. It really is a viable long-term wastewater solution,” he explained, adding that the event would be a great opportunity for younger members to gain critical facility insights while familiarizing themselves with the city just in time for the conference.
“London is always a successful conference for us,” said Gary. “Facilities are great, and it’s extremely accessible, so we consistently have a great turnout.”
Of this year’s conference, it should come as no surprise that Gary’s most excited for the Operations Challenge.
“It’s tons of fun,” he said. “Beforehand, some of the younger competitors will come up to me and tell me how their team completed a certain event in record time during practice. Of course, it’s a little different when you get up in front of everyone and the nerves kick in. It’s really exciting stuff.”
He’s also looking forward to the PWO Tour of the StormFisher Plant, capped off by a local brewery tour, and the Professional Wastewater Operators technical session, a presentation that will explore innovative approaches to wastewater operations.
If you’re testing your mettle at this year’s Ops Challenge, a couple words of advice from Gary might provide you with the competitive edge you need to win it all.