It would almost seem too much to ask that the Chief Executive Officer of a major utility be environmentally conscious, versed in the latest technologies for providing clean drinking water and clean electricity, and has roots in the community he serves. Essex County has all of these, and more, in ENWIN Utilities CEO Garry Rossi, who stepped up to the top spot in January of this year.
Born and raised in east Windsor, Garry attended Catholic Central high school and the University of Windsor where he majored in Environmental Engineering.
“My fourth-year project was on the difference between ozone and chlorine treatment,” Garry recalls. “It was Dr. Saad Jasim’s project, bringing ozone treatment to the A.H. Weeks Water Treatment Plant on Wyandotte Street.”
Garry was involved in the co-op program at the university, where he was placed at Ford Motor Company, who ultimately hired him at Ford Windsor Casting Plant.”
“I worked at Ford for twelve years of my career,” he continues. “It was there I had my first experience with water treatment as I was fortunate to be a part of an innovative group that implemented ozone for the Casting plant’s wastewater treatment.”
He goes on: “Our team won a quality Q1 award, so that was something I am very proud of. A delegation was brought through the Ford plant, subsequently, and in 2000, the ozone treatment process was implemented for Windsor’s municipal water.”
Garry quickly adds: “I had an extremely small part in all that, but it felt good that something I worked on in my fourth-year project at the university translated into my work at Ford, and then into my work here.”
Further recognition of their work came in the form of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment award in 1999.
Around 2007, Garry left Ford and went to work at Veolia Environmental Services in Chatham.
“They were building a new waste transfer station and wastewater treatment facility,” he explains. “I worked there for a couple of years and then the Director for Water Production role opened up at ENWIN. Since water treatment was always a passion of mine, I knew I had to apply for the position.”
He continues: “I was happy to inherit a state-of-the-art treatment technology because we had ozone,” he says. “We’re still one of the few utilities in the province to have it. It’s the one technology that helps us with many of the emerging contaminants that have been coming our way, such as blue-green algae.”
A press release from the Windsor Mayor’s office states: “[Garry] has led his team in providing safe reliable drinking water to the residents of Windsor, Tecumseh and Lasalle garnering ten years of a 100 percent inspection score through the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks measurement system.”
On the electricity side, Garry notes: “Many people may not realize that over ninety percent of Ontario’s electricity is from zero-emissions sources. There is, however, that last ten percent.”
ENWIN is involved in several interesting projects. One is the Security of Water Supply Project with the Union Water Supply System and Windsor Utilities Commission (WUC). This is intended to help avert the effects of emergency events, such as chemical spills, blue-green algae, damage to intakes, cyber-attacks, or major unforeseen facility damage. Through a shared reservoir system, WUC and Union will be able to support one another in the event of an emergency. This will be ongoing over the next five to ten years.
ENWIN is also working on installing a nearly one-megawatt solar roof onto their 4545 Rhodes Drive location. This project began last year, and installation is on track to occur this year.
Another project ENWIN is undertaking, in collaboration with St. Clair College and Automobility Enterprises, is converting a gas-powered F150 pick-up truck from an internal combustion engine to an all-electric drive train. This involves removing the 3.5-litre gas engine and replacing it with eight massive batteries. ENWIN intends to put the vehicle to day-to-day use as it will be the organization’s first fully electric fleet vehicle.
“We’ve also had the self-healing grid project,” Garry says. “It’s a new ring we’re building in the city that will help re-route power in the event of a power outage. It helps with redundancy and adds resiliency to our infrastructure, as well as improving response times when customers do experience outages.” With this new system, outages that previously affected thousands may only affect a few hundred.
“With decarbonization and electrification, customers moving from gas-fired heating/cooling to electrical, we are ready to bolster the distribution system to aid in this transition,” Garry says. “Looking forward to our future and the changes in our industry. It’s exciting.”