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E-Splash November 2013 - District 2 Trustee - Jensen
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash - November 2013


Don Jensen
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 organization.

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 Plants

· Construction, Hydraulics, Pumping and Operation of Water Wells

· Water Softening, Disinfection and Special Problems

· 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

· Corrosion Control

· Water Works Surveys

· Cross-Connections

· Water Softening and Quality Improvement

· Coagulation of Lake Water

· Instrumentation

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

· There is at least one AWWA Member in every community in the State:

· Legislation is enacted requiring the licensing of those engaged in water supply activities

· Instructional 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

· Good 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 AWWA Section.

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

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.


Item Name Posted By Date Posted
Splash Summer 2015 PDF (8.83 MB)  more ] Administration 7/6/2015
SPLASH ADVERTISING_2015 PDF (2.12 MB) Administration 11/18/2014
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