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Monday, Apr 19, 2021

Keith Kohut channels passion for water to advocacy role for safe drinking water

Man presenting to crowd at community event

Keith presenting to a local community for a water treatment project

Ten years ago, when Vancouver-based Water Process Engineer, Keith Kohut took on a volunteer role on the BC Water and Waste Association (BCWWA)’s Drinking Water Committee, he didn’t realize the Committee’s work would become a major focus of his energies outside of work. 

The role was timely as Keith was looking for opportunities to gain more exposure to the water industry, outside of his project work. Keith was given the role of “Website Specialist” to update the Committee’s website. Keith tells us that, at the time, the Committee’s work was very internally focused. While the role provided opportunities to meet people from other sectors of the industry, Keith felt he could do more. He proposed the idea that the Committee be more proactive in responding to proposed changes to drinking water guidelines and legislation, when these documents became available for public comment. Through his work, he had experience in conducting similar tasks, reviewing these types of documents. With a desire to make a greater impact, the Committee handed Keith the reins to drive this initiative.  

With a passion for water, Keith shares that it was easy for him to put in the extra effort to undertake this work during his spare time. He also learned that motivation fuels motivation.

“Other people on the Committee built off my energy, became more engaged, and took on new initiatives. Now, the Committee is viewed by BCWWA as their most active committee.”  

Group of people visiting a water treatment plant

Keith (fourth from left) on a tour of a local water treatment plant

Keith’s efforts were recognized by the Committee and the BCWWA Board. He was asked to take on the role as the Committee’s Chair. In 2017, BCWWA honoured him with membership to the “Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers” (he explains this is a good thing) for his service. In 2019, Keith was presented with the Stanley S. Copp Award for outstanding contributions to BCWWA. Recently, Keith was asked to apply for a position on the Board of Directors. In June, he takes on the role of AWWA Director for BCWWA. 

Two men holding award

Keith receiving the Stanley S. Copp Award from BCWWA

For Keith, something that started out as a small project has enabled him to expand his network across a variety of sectors - getting to know people who he otherwise would not have met. Most importantly for Keith, he has helped to improve drinking water quality guidelines and raise awareness of water issues, protecting the public and helping to build healthier, more sustainable communities.  

Keith’s passion for the life-giving power of water is helping to shape a better future for all of us.