York Region profiles the people behind its water system

worker standing by water tower
Process control systems technologist Kyle Carlen was featured in York Region's Water Heroes campaign.

By Roy Huetl, Regional Municipality of York

The Regional Municipality of York in Ontario provides safe, clean, reliable, affordable and convenient drinking water and wastewater services to more than 1.1 million residents across its nine cities and towns.

As owner of more than $5.3 billion of water infrastructure, it acts as a wholesale provider of water and wastewater services and manages the delivery and treatment of more than 285 million litres of drinking water every day. The local cities and towns are the retailer providers, purchasing their water supply and wastewater treatment from York Region and setting retail water rates for their customers.

We are known for promoting the excellence of our staff. This was a key factor in the development of “Water Is”, a multi-faceted communications campaign designed to present and explain the true value of water to our residents and business owners.

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To help achieve our goal of explaining water’s journey from its source to our taps and back out to the environment (i.e., our water and wastewater processes), three water works videos were developed. To supplement these, 10 in-house Water Heroes videos were produced, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the number of people, resources, infrastructure and facilities involved in our water business. All of this costs money to operate, maintain, repair and replace.

Water professionals from all divisions of our environmental services department are featured in the campaign as Water Heroes, highlighting their work to protect water resources and deliver clean, safe drinking water to those who live, work and play in the Region.

From an operations perspective, the Water Is campaign:

  • Uncovers a human side to the work we do to protect public health and the environment.
  • Gives residents an understanding of the magnitude of work being completed by behind-the-scenes staff.
  • Communicates the vast pride our staff have in their work.
  • Provides an insider’s look into how our hidden water infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities operate.

Viewers meet Diane King, wastewater operator, and learn how she treats wastewater at a water resource recovery facility. They go behind the walls of a sewage pumping station with Lee Ferguson, industrial maintenance mechanic. They climb to the top of a water tower with Kyle Carlen, process control systems technologist. They also see how Jen Ryan, sewer use by-law enforcement officer, guards against pollution by hunting it down at the source.

The Water Heroes videos capture the passion of our team, on both the water and wastewater sides of our daily operations. The videos have received positive feedback not only from our municipal and industry partners and residents, but also from staff within York Region.

The Water Is campaign, through the Water Heroes videos and other outreach tactics, has educated people, both inside and outside of our organization, boosted staff morale, and provided a greater level of understanding of what our water and wastewater operations team does.

York Region’s strongest asset is our staff and they merit having their work and commitment to our residents acknowledged. Our teams respond 24/7, whether it is during a heat wave or an ice storm, to ensure clean, safe water is available to residents, and wastewater is safely treated before being returned to the environment.

Roy Huetl is Director, Operations, Maintenance and Monitoring with the Regional Municipality of York.
To view more Water Heroes videos or learn more about the Water Is campaign, visit: www.york.ca/

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