I ended up in the water industry after college. It was kinda by default since jobs were scarce and I just got lucky. But pipes and treatment fascinated me and even after I became a town manager. There I learned everyone wanted my water and sewer skills. So when I moved to Florida, I moved over to water and sewer full-time and continue to do so today.

I joined AWWA in 1986 and came to my first ACE in 1994. I haven’t missed one since. Along the way I have met a lot of great people, written papers, published books and developed training for AWWA and its members. I have chaired several AWWA conferences and technical programs. I am on the committee for WQTC – hence why I am here (and given two papers). The conference combines research, regulations and management into a package. WQTC is the opportunity to and learn about the research in the industry form the researchers and academics performing the work which is the reason to be here.

But I was probably always destined for water. I was born an Aquarius (water bearer). When I was a kid I really looked forward to hanging out along the AuSable River or my favorite place to fish, Kyle Lake. I never really thought about whether it was the water or the fishing that enthused me the both (they both did). Fond memories years later. Then I moved to eastern North Carolina and ended up spending a lot of time on the beach, again, not really asking whether it was fishing or the waves. When I moved to Naples, FL, I was re-energized by the waves, and it was a lot less about fishing as I rarely fished. Same as when I started hiking, I always seem to hike to water. Water falls, calm lakes, roaring oceans, streams, rivers – it doesn’t matter. It’s all water. In my industry – it’s all one water!


Please thank a vet for their service.  Without them we would not be as free as we are and we would be a lot less safe.  They have made sacrifices many of us cannot understand – we were not there.  But please understand, vets went to fight because their country, that the rest of us, asked them to.  They didn’t go looking for a fight but they did not back down from one.  Some never came back – the ultimate sacrifice.  But they did it because we asked them to lay down their lives for us.  They fought for freedom (ours in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812), for the freedom of others (Civil War), Freedom from tyranny (WW1, WW2) idealism (Korea, Vietnam) and our defense from the attacks of others (Afghanistan).  We should never put them in harm’s way unless there is a national security reason to do so.  And then, we need to give them  our support and understanding coming back.  Those that give us their true service won’t ask for it, but we need to give it as freely as they risk their lives.  And remember, we cannot relate to what they experienced.  Only they can.  So thank  Vet for all you have!

IMG_6285 FB731 IMG_0234.  IMG_6308

I love South Park.  Parody on the ridiculous stuff that goes on every day.  Most of the time the writers hit the target.  And I laugh.  There is an episode of South Park where the residents cry out about immigrants that “took ‘r jobs!!”  And then they go on to “rabble rabble rabble” because they don’t know what else to do.  And of course in the Republican debates, the illegal immigrant issue has arisen.  But how big a problem is this really?  And are these jobs Americans really want to do, or is the illegal immigrant market basically taken the bottom rung because today’s workers don’t want those jobs.

So first, what are those jobs? Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler at the Center for Immigration Studies analyzed the census data from 2010 and found there to be 472 “professions” that could be categorized. Of the 472 civilian occupations, only six would be categorized as being “majority immigrant (legal and illegal).” The six are:

  • Plasterers,
  • Personal appearance workers
  • Sewing machine operators
  • Garment manufacturing, and
  • Agricultural occupations (2)

They note that these six occupations account for 1 percent of the total U.S. workforce and that even in those fields, native-born Americans still comprise 46 percent of workers even in these occupations.  In high-immigrant occupations, 59 percent of the natives have no education beyond high school, compared to 31 percent of the rest of the labor force.

Many jobs often thought to be overwhelmingly immigrant (legal and illegal) are in fact majority native-born:

  • Maids and housekeepers: 51 percent native-born
  • Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 58 percent native-born
  • Butchers and meat processors: 63 percent native-born
  • Grounds maintenance workers: 64 percent native-born
  • Construction laborers: 66 percent native-born
  • Porters, bellhops, and concierges: 72 percent native-born
  • Janitors: 73 percent native-born

There are 67 occupations in which 25 percent or more of workers are immigrants (legal and illegal). In these high-immigrant occupations, there are still 16.5 million natives — accounting for one out of eight natives in the labor force.

Illegal immigrants work mostly in construction, cleaning, maintenance, food service, garment manufacturing, and agricultural occupations. They found no occupations in the United States in which a majority of workers are illegal immigrants. Even in the overwhelming majority of workers even in these areas are native-born or legal immigrants.

So then the question really is this – are they taking jobs that Americans want to do?  Historically the answer is no.  Both the agricultural and garment industries have struggled to get native workers.  The work is long, hard, and conditions difficult.  If you have education, you can find a better, higher paying job.  No American kids grows up wanting to pick beans or sew for a living.  Immigrants have always been the source of labor.  Plasterers are difficult to find when construction jobs are plentiful so that is the one exception to low paying jobs that no one wants to do.  Construction has always looked for labor help and certain specialties. And there are not that many of these jobs in comparison to the others on the list.  So for those 5 jobs the answer is no.  Same goes for most of the next seven (Maids, housekeepers, janitors, bellmen, etc.).  I should note that my great grandmother (an immigrant) cleaned houses, but made sure none of her kids would by making them get an education.  Ditto for my uncle who was a janitor.  Neither was well educated, but their kids were.  And there kids were far better  off economically.

So political rhetoric aside, the answer seems to be that immigrants do in fat take those jobs that we do not want to do that require less education.  These jobs mostly pay minimum wage. The study notes that 59 percent of the natives have no education beyond high school, compared to 31 percent of the rest of the labor force.   Get educated – get a job that pays better than minimum wage.  Seems like I have heard that rhetoric as well.

I have a friend of mine ask this question to me.  His contention was that there would be a lot of answers but the answers would  generally be characterized as outside influences.  You see this a lot in life.  So I asked a very narrow group of my students (seniors) this question.  These were their answers:

Myself or some part of it 30
A class 6
nothing 3
FE Exam 2
money 2

My buddy was both wrong and amazed.  Nearly 70% of the students said the issue involved them.  of those 30 responses above, the most common of the answers was time management, somethings students struggle to learn.  I wonder how many people would see things this way as well?  My buddy was really impressed with my students.  Now he should come see their final presentations and prepare to be really impressed.

time mgmt 13
Me 4
fear of failure 3
lanugage 2
communication skills 1
confidence 1
disorganization 1
haiving limits 1
indiscretions 1
interpersonal skills 1
see the big picture 1
taking responsibility 1

Of course the “IRS” and “indiscetions” answers might be the more interesting….


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