NEIWPCC will offer a live-virtual course worth three training contact hours entitled “Increasing Public Support for Wastewater with Proven Positive Outreach” on Thursday, April 11 at 12:15 – 3:15 p.m. William (Bill) Patenaude, a NEIWPCC trainer for the Wastewater and Onsite Programs Division, is running the course to help operators gain community support by educating the public about the clean water industry. 

“When your customers and neighbors see first-hand the technology and professional efforts that go into wastewater collection and treatment, they are usually amazed,” said Patenaude. “And that amazement more often than not translates into financial support.” 

In the course, speakers will discuss previous outreach efforts including open houses, which have taken place at Rhode Island wastewater treatment for several years. The tours are open to the public and allow members of all ages to tour their local plants, learn about the clean water recovery process and ask any questions they may have. The upcoming class will provide resources to help operators start up open house tours at their own plants. 

“These tours are a great way to turn members of the community into some of your biggest advocates,” said Patenaude. 

The speakers will also discuss other strategies that have helped their plants, including participating in youth education, publishing success stories in local papers and developing materials for outreach and education. 

The course will be co-taught by a group of wastewater professionals including Patenaude, who has more than 34 years of experience in the wastewater industry as a mechanical engineer at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The other instructors include NEIWPCC commissioners Janine Burke-Wells of Nebra and Rhode Island Clean Water Association and Stacy Thompson of Saco, Maine; and Scott Goodinson, superintendent at the Narragansett Wastewater Treatment Facility.