Chair Elect Report
John Van Arsdel
Another Watercon has come and gone. I thought after last year's we would have a tough time topping our performance. However, with the combined efforts of the Illinois Section AWWA and the Illinois WEA, we not only topped it, we rocked it! Between the IWEA, ISAWWA and the PreCon presentations, there were over 200 sessions. Where else can you get such exposure to such a wealth of knowledge, live and in person? Not to mention the events in the Exhibit Hall, YP functions, and Meter Madness, TopOps, and the Tapping competitions!! I admire the four ladies who donned hard hats and gloves and worked the tools of making a tap into a pipe. The Westmont team, however, made a grand showing and now will be able to go to Dallas, along with the ladies, as a result of their performance. That is very cool!
The Grand Opening started with the ribbon cutting, complete with a "marching band”, even though it was an awesome kazoo band! I played in that march. However I forgot to wear my kazoo kilt. What a show, and even the Splash Mob with folks dancing made a hit! Now I can say we just might have a few of those dancers that may be able to compete on "Dancing with the Stars” … well, maybe not. A rumba with an umbrella … you get the picture. It was truly a good show, well done. My kudos go to everyone who helped make it possible; the staff, the Boards of IWEA and ISAWWA, and especially the vendors who exhibited their services and wares.
My congratulations go out to Kyla Jacobsen, our newest George Warren Fuller Award winner. Your dedication to your craft, our organization, and all you have done have been inspirational. Thank you for your sincere contributions to the water industry. It was great to hear Gene Koontz, the AWWA Vice President announce your award.
Now we start a new year. I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Our organization is changing. It happens whether we want it or not; like it or not. These changes in the world of water include loss of jobs from budget cuts, technology changes, educational needs, and the need to make wiser choices on how we use water. I have the unique opportunity to be able to interact with other AWWA sections, and I get to see what they are doing to keep up with the challenges of meeting the needs of their membership. We are fortunate to have such great talent in Illinois… not that the other sections don't have talent. I just like ours a little bit better and like to brag about Illinois.
Our Section has adjusted to changes in the way it operates. Instead of meeting face to face at sessions, webinars have become prevalent. Our website has been updated and works very well. Our ability to get education events out to our membership has been greatly enhanced compared to several years ago. Our access to knowledge via the Internet has greatly enhanced our ability to streamline the education process. So, now, our organization's role in helping professionals in the water industry is directly connected to our ability to make use of the technology we have. This means sharpening our vision and mission by continuing to provide new educational initiatives and continuing with maintaining our membership levels. We are not unlike other organizations; they all are facing membership issues, too. I recently read in one of the other section's quarterly magazine that every 8 seconds, someone has retired. I feel like I am beating this issue up every time I write an article for Splash, and maybe I missed a few parts that have not been beaten yet, but the fact is we have to make extra efforts to attract new members into the Section as well as maintain the ones we already have. We have the ability, structure, leadership and more to make that happen. Get someone to join. There are lots of success stories out there as a result of membership in AWWA.
If you need an AWWA success story, look no further than our own John Donahue. I am glad that John has decided to take another shot at running for AWWA President. He has always talked about how AWWA has helped shape him into the water professional he is today. He is the one who talked me into getting involved at a higher level with the AWWA Water Loss Committee. I probably would not have taken that on had he not encouraged me. There are others we all can encourage to move up and help with our organization. We need that encouragement from time to time.
Later in April I will attend the RMSO (Regional Meeting for Section Officers) for our region. It is in Indianapolis; and for me it is only a short drive of a few hours. At this meeting others from our Section and I will get to engage in networking with other sections for our region, sharing in ideas of how to take what we have and make it better. The AWWA folks from Denver will lead us through the various items on the agenda, and after it is all done, we will be able to bring that experience back to the Section.
I look forward to this year and hope everyone has the opportunity to be a part of and grow with this great experience we call the Illinois Section AWWA.