| AWWA Member Spotlight – Steve Bell, Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Steve Bell, Georgetown, Ontario, Canada

Note: Steve Bell is one of three winners who tied for first place in Opflow’s 2020 Gimmicks & Gadgets Contest. He designed the “Hitch Lifter” to help his team move heavy aircraft-rated drain, manhole and valve chamber covers and grates.  

Steve Bell with co-workers Elvis Migotto and Bill HrynkiwJob title and employer: Plumbing Project Coordinator, Greater Toronto Airports Authority 

Training/certification: Master Plumber, Gas Fitter, Certified Plumbing Systems Inspector, Cross Connection Control Specialist

Job duties: Plumbing and water distribution, sewer and gas inspections, maintenance programs (Pictured from left, Steve Bell with co-workers Elvis Migotto and Bill Hrynkiw).

How did you get involved in working with water and other airport systems? I started at Toronto Pearson International Airport in 1996 as a plumber in the Maintenance Department. I love aircraft, and it was my dream job. Four years later, the airport launched the biggest construction project in Canada while still operating. This included new runways, hangars, terminal buildings, fire halls, bus facilities, roads, bridges, power plants, hotels, etc. Two other plumbers, Bill Hrynkiw and Elvis Migotto, and I were assigned to all the inspection shutdowns and coordinated transitions in plumbing, water distribution, sanitary/storm, heating chilled distribution and gas systems. We progressed through a huge learning curve, including technical training courses, on-the-job training with engineers, highly-skilled contractors and external local authorities.

Steve Bell with his Hitch LifterHow have you used innovation – such as the Hitch Lifter – to be more effective? We’re lucky to work in an environment where we can improvise/improve the way we do things. I often use the Hitch Lifter (pictured with Steve at right) to retrieve stuck covers. Recently I was able to recover a 500-pound aircraft-rated storm grate that the maintenance operator dropped eight feet into the catch basin. Another example is the method I use to keep track of our valve turning program and record modifications to our water distribution system. I use one PDF marked up with colored dots and lines, which have associated text boxes that hold as much information as needed. I draw in waterlines as they go in and dots mark the valves. It’s a great way to record information and operate a system in a constantly changing environment. I use the same setup for sewer and gas.
How have you benefited from your membership in AWWA and the OWWA Section? We joined AWWA years back when we needed answers to solve an incident we were dealing with. We got hold of an expert at AWWA on the phone who provided the information before we were even members. That’s when I realized that if you are involved in water distribution and wastewater/storm systems, you need to be a member of AWWA to Steve Bell with wife and sonhave access to the best training and information in the sector. I have been to three annual conferences and have learned a lot from attending. I feel that in my job, nothing in the water sector is a surprise because I’m up to speed, thanks to AWWA. 

Describe your family and personal interests: My wife, Lesley, and I emigrated from Scotland to live in Canada in 1990 to get away from the rain. We have two kids – Stacey, 28, and Charlie, 10. We love to spend time fishing, swimming and canoeing at our cottage in Haliburton, Ontario. (Pictured left, Steve, Charlie and Lesley)

Steve at aviation showWhat would surprise people to know about you? Working at an airport, I get a lot of chances to see the most amazing aircraft up close. I take full advantage, especially when the airshow comes to Toronto (pictured right). I enjoy the challenge of trying to repair broken appliances. Even if you don’t have success, you always learn something. I also like to exercise in my home gym to try to stay healthy as once you get on the wrong side of 50 it’s not good.

Anything else you’d like to add? It is so important for people worldwide to work together and share information for the common good. I think AWWA is a shining example for us all and I’m proud to be part of it. T.E.A.M – Together Everyone Achieves More.