Social Impact

Making a difference

Operators Helping Operators

OWB represents a dynamic and impactful response to global water and wastewater management challenges. Through its diverse initiatives, strategic collaborations, and commitment to capacity building, OWB has established itself as a vital contributor to global environmental sustainability. Its journey, marked by challenges and triumphs, serves as a powerful testament to the importance of skilled volunteerism and expertise in addressing some of the world’s most pressing water-related issues.

The inception of OWB traces back to the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, as recounted during a keynote speech by Bernard Ettinoffe, General Manager of Dominica Water and Sewerage Company (DOWASCO), at a conference in Guyana. Hurricane Maria, regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica, was the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide of 2017, and the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

After talking to Mr. Ettinoffe whom Valerie had known and worked with for many years. the critical need for skilled assistance in Dominica’s water utility sector was recognized. Valerie’s vision was to mobilize skilled water and wastewater operators from Canada and the United States for voluntary assistance in disaster recovery and capacity building in developing countries. Robert Haller, the Executive Director of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association provided a platform to recruit volunteers and raise funds at CWWA’s Annual Conference. The first deployment to Dominica included certified operators Marcel Misuraca (OCWA), Jason Mank (OCWA), and Glen Ketchum (EPCOR). A silent auction raising $4,000 to pay for volunteer airfares and expenses. The efforts of the volunteers aided in restoring water services to three villages and repairing the main wastewater treatment facility.

While initially focused on the Caribbean, OWB is broadening its reach globally, including pilot projects in Africa and collaborative efforts for providing ICS training in Ukraine. This expansion reflects OWB’s adaptability and responsiveness to global water and wastewater challenges.

Operators Without Borders (OWB) symbolizes a commitment to global water and wastewater management, particularly in disaster-stricken areas.

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