District 2 Trustee
Recently I was doing a Google search of the history of my
water utility and stumbled upon the archives of the ISAWWA Splash newsletter.
I was quickly sidetracked, fascinated by the history of our
The first issue (VOL. 1, NO. 1) was published in September
1948, sixty-five years ago.
When I read this issue, the first thing that struck me was how
social mores have changed over the years. The issue is replete with a tribe of
cartoon Indians led by "Chief ISAWWA”.
Apart from that, it is remarkable how little the organization
and the issues faced by waterworks professionals have changed over the decades.
In this inaugural issue, the curriculum of the Third annual
Waterworks institute, to be held at Northwestern University was announced. The topics were:
Design, Operation and Maintenance of Filter
Construction, Hydraulics, Pumping and Operation
of Water Wells
Water Softening, Disinfection and Special
Bacteriology, Microscopy of Drinking Water and
Chemistry of Drinking Water
Keeping the Design of Filter Plants Up to Date
Legal Aspects of Water Utilities
Hydrology of Underground Water Supplies
Conservation of Water
Water Works Surveys
Water Softening and Quality Improvement
Coagulation of Lake Water
If you compare this list to those offered at WATERCON you’ll
find little has changed in 65 years!
There WAS one
other difference that I noticed, the tuition for this five-week Institute was $10.00
per student which included the banquet.
Even back then the Association was concerned with sustaining
its membership, numbering 397 at the time.
The Membership Chairman tasked Board members with encouraging utilities
to enroll their employees. In 1951 a list of names and addresses of all members
who were dropped for non payment of dues was printed in Splash! (Randy – don’t get any ideas)
The 1949 edition featured the wonders to be seen at the AWWA
conference to be held in Chicago that year. They included an electron
microscope, (pneumatic) rate of flow and loss of head telemetry, pipe gallery
dehumidification and automatic chlorine residual recorders. The conference also featured a tour of the
new South Works Plant in Chicago. There
was no Jardine Plant in those days. In
1950 the Chicago City Council authorized construction of the ‘North Central
Plant’, later to be known as the Jardine Plant.
There was no IEPA in those days; however, waterworks
improvements still required the blessing of the IDPH Chief Sanitary Engineer. Each issue listed newly permitted projects.
In 1950-51 interest turned to civil defense and wartime
material shortages as the Korean War heated up.
In 1950 James Weeks of the Chicago Waterworks reported that on
September 27 they noticed the first impact of television programming on water
use when their system pressure dropped 6 to 8 PSI at 10:15 pm, exactly when the
Joe Lewis – Charles Ezzard fight ended.
The Association’s ‘wish list’ from the January 1950 issue
As we start out on a new year, we look forward to the time when
at least one AWWA Member in every community in the State:
Legislation is enacted requiring the licensing of those
engaged in water supply activities
activities for water works personnel in the State are integrated into a well developed and comprehensive in service
training program, administered by a committee representing all of the various
agencies in the State now engaged in such training programs
public relations programs for water utilities in all communities throughout the
State become the rule rather than the exception
It looks like we still have a way to go on a couple of these.
Particularly interesting is the June 1955 edition celebrating
the 100th anniversary of AWWA and featuring a number of articles on
the history of water treatment technology, as well as history of AWWA. The
Illinois Section is the second oldest and at that time was the fourth largest
As you thumb through these old issues, you will surely
recognize many names from the forties including: Horace Frye, John Baylis,
Cliff Fore, John VanArsdel and Carl Leopold.
Reading the history of ISAWWA brings home the fact that we are
following a long line of professionals dedicated to the maintenance, operation
and improvement of the public water supplies.
I hope that our successors will look back on our generation with the
respect and admiration that I feel for those who preceded us.
So, instead of Words With Friends or Facebook next time you
have a few minutes to kill, check out http://www.isawwa.org/?SPLASHHistory
PS – I notice that many issues are missing from the
archive. So, any of you hoarders out
there who have piles of back issues of Splash,
send them to Laurie.