Osceola Water Works (OWW) and the customers they serve faced a number of unprecedented challenges in 2020. While it was understandably a tough year, there were also a number of positives to look back on as 2021 planning starts.
The weather at the start of the year was a little uncooperative, but that didn’t keep OWW from completing the water tower rehabilitation project. Through high winds and rain, even some snow, much-needed water tower repairs, cleaning, and painting were all part of the Board’s efforts to provide a source of clean and safe water to the community. Ultimately, they were able to push through and get the project done by summer, displaying a beautiful water tower that can be seen for miles around, and used for supplementary supply and added emergency support.
Of course, the pandemic caused hardships for all of Osceola and surrounding communities. With the Casino closed or in reduced operation for a large part of the year, there was a snowball effect to other businesses and those who live and work in the area. Knowing how integral clean and safe water is to keeping a community thriving, the Osceola Water Works Department refrained from shutting off services to delinquent households through March, April and May. By offering this reprieve, families were able to keep their service while they caught up and adjusted to the “new normal.”
“Not only were we trying to continue providing safe water, we were working hard to keep our community safe and healthy,” said Alisha Kale, Osceola Water Works Board Chair. “We worked hard to avoid water shut-offs and never closed the office, resorting to appointment-only engagement when local COVID-19 numbers were high. That way we could continue providing quality service to our customers as well as protect our staff.”
Throughout the summer, OWW fought unusual turbidity issues and algae blooms at West Lake, in addition to being lambasted with plant repairs. Facing every challenge head-on, Brandon Patterson, Water Superintendent, and the Water Works team did everything in their power to keep the water supply clean, safe, and available to all.
“Our main priorities in 2020 were to keep our water safe, keep our employees safe, and keep our community safe,” said Patterson. “As 2021 approaches, we are looking to the things that we need to do to improve, and we’re ready to take action to continue our service to the community.”
By partnering with the community through the obstacles brought about by COVID-19 and a volatile 2020, the Osceola Water Works Department was able to continue their dedication to providing clean, safe water, and will remain committed to improvements into the new year.
As the team looks into 2021, they know adjustments will need to be made. Whether that comes in the form of changes at the plant, changes in staffing, or changes in operations, they stand prepared for the next stage and thank the community for standing with them.