GLENVILLE – Robert E. Wither of Glenville was recently recognized by the Water Environment Federation and the New York Water Environment Association with the Arthur Sidney Bedell Award.
The Arthur Sidney Bedell Award recognizes a member of the New York Water Environment Association for extraordinary personal service to the member associations to the Member Associations of the Federation.
“I was kind of embarrassed when they nominated me, because I just do, I don’t really look for anything out of it,” Wither said. “I’ve been heavily involved with the association for quite a few years. It’s kind of hard to put in words; it’s recognition for all the things you do. Really what it is, all the things I’ve done I’ve enjoyed doing. I’ve enjoyed working in this field.
Wither was recognized for over 25 years of service to the NYWEA and WEF. He is a New York state licensed professional engineer and state Department of Environmental Conservation certifies operator trainer. He is currently a seasonal environmental engineering technician for DEC, and a lecturer at the SUNY Morrisville Environmental Training Center.
“I’m somebody who enjoys being on the water,” Wither said. “It’s nice working in a field where I can actually see the benefits of what we do, I’ve been heavily involved with trying to help operators meet the qualifications to become professionals in the field in New York.
Wither worked with DEC from 1985 until his “retirement” in 2019 as an environmental engineer. He has been involved with the WEF and NYWEA in a variety of roles, including NYWEA president in 2019.
“There’s a lot of people who are really dedicated to this work,” Wither said. We don’t get a lot of notoriety, mostly because a lot of us don’t look for it, but there’s a lot of really mediated people who want to do the right thing. They’re focused very strongly on protecting public health and the environment and that’s probably one of the biggest benefits of having my whole career in this field, is just all the great people you get to work with and all the accomplishments they are making.”
The award was named for “water pioneer” Arthur Sidney Bedell, said NYWEA Executive Director Patricia Cerro-Reehil. Bedell had devoted his life to service to what was called the New York Sewage and Industrial Waste Association (now the New York Water Association).
“It’s a national award, but Arthur Sidney Bedell was from New York,” Cerro-Reehil said. “He was the second president of the Water Environment Federation. He came from humble New York beginnings. It’s really an honor for Bob to receive this award. It’s given to our members who have made a significant impact on the personal and professional development of one or more water quality professionals, and this is why it’s just so special for Bob to get it, he’s just such a beautiful soul.”
The award process includes a nomination and application before it is reviewed by an executive committee. It is then sent to the organization’s board for approval, Cerro-Reehil said.
“Not only did he have a long and distinguished career with New York state DEC, working to improve water quality through the wastewater treatment plant processes and operators,” Cerro-Reehil said. “Training operators to be the best that they can be, and then also working on permits, making sure the permit regulations are followed by the operators. And what became a capstone for him, he is a trainer at the Environmental Training Center SUNY Morrisville.”
She called it “fitting” and “appropriate” after all of the work Wither has accomplished throughout his career.
“Wastewater is so often, out of sight, out of mind,” Cerro-Reehil said. “Bob has helped to train hundreds of operators and make them understand better how significant a career in water quality is.”
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