Small Systems Delivers
Jon Meyer, Chair
The Small System Committee completed its first ever Operator Day joint session with the Education Committee at WaterCon2012. This inaugural event was a success. The day started with a combined morning track where operators met some of the IEPA staff, listened to some of the changes occurring at the IEPA, and asked questions of the staff. Additional special guests included representatives from the Illinois State Water Survey, and the Illinois State Geologic Survey. Although they only provided a brief introduction to attendees, it was beneficial to all to see the wealth of resources available within our State.
The Small Systems track session focused on training for minimally staffed utilities, and followed the combined morning track. This session was definitely a success. Our Committee's very own Wayne Nelson (see him in action at WATERCON in the inset photo), who had recently undergone minor surgery, demonstrated to operators present that even if you aren't feeling your best, you still have to get the job done. He wasn't going to quit on our Small System operators in attendance because he knows what they go through each and every day. Small water (and wastewater) systems have to provide quality service to their communities, and there is frequently only one operator with no backup. He was just doing what they do every day. Delivering.
And Wayne did deliver. He described scenarios that he has personally encountered as a small system operator, and that he has seen through his many years of experience at IRWA. Session attendees were packed in. In follow-up conversations with attendees, they all thought that both the session and Wayne provided them with useful and practical information. Our Committee hopes to build on this session next year.
Jim Strutz (from ILWARN [and behind Wayne in the inset photo]) and Steve Wilson (Illinois State Water Survey and Small System Committee member) also presented during the Small System's track. Jim provided an overview of the ILWARN system including what it is, how it works, and how to join. He mentioned that, thankfully, disasters don't occur every day; but, by joining ILWARN, you are prepared for when they do occur. This is an important point. You can't take an exam without preparing through study and practice. Well, you can't be ready for a disaster if you are not prepared with an established process and resources. Although you may have a "gentleman's agreement” with your neighboring community, what happens if they are affected by the same disaster that has impacted your community? ILWARN sounds like a good tool to have in your disaster recovery tool belt!
Steve's presentation was on SmallWatersupply.org. This website is tremendous! This is a one-stop-shop for free (repeat FREE) online resources, training, etc. It's a simple user-friendly website that's mines through the data available on the Internet. This website is easy to navigate, and one you must check out. There were quite a few operators who were impressed with it.
We were also very proud of the small system operators who joined us for lunch and the afternoon roundtable discussion. Their interaction with each other, meeting with exhibitors, and general interest in making the most of their day at the conference was very encouraging. We were happy to have them spend some time with us.
Finally, I would like to thank each of my Committee members including Wayne Nelson, Pat Gleason, Steve Wilson, Mike Burris, and new member Scott Bailey. Together we were awarded the AWWA national Small System Committee award including a check for $200. We will formally receive this award in Dallas at ACE2012.
Please visit our page on the new ISAWWA website for more information regarding the Small System Committee. If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-780-7754.