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E-Splash February 2014 - District 2 Trustee Report
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash - February 2014


Andrea Putz, District 2 Trustee

As I sit here looking at the 15-foot high snow drifts on our plant grounds, I am amazed at how hard our staff at the City of Chicago works to operate no matter what the conditions. And I know we’re not alone – water and sewer utility staff must be some of the toughest bunch around. Whether they’re stuck in a trench, wet and freezing, or trying not to pass out from the heat during a sweltering August day, or working the midnight shift operating a plant, or taking water samples from people’s homes, water utility staff are working hard while other people go home, turn on their faucets or flush their toilet, and don’t give it a second thought. We are indeed the silent service. So take a second to thank your staff. Let them know that their dedication is appreciated. Encourage them to make their job a career, to get their Operator’s License, to get their Professional Engineer License.

One of the ways you can thank your staff for that dedication is to by providing the opportunity for training and professional volunteerism. Illinois Section AWWA provides so many fantastic opportunities for training tailored to your utility’s needs. WATERCON 2014 is coming up in March, and as always I find myself looking forward to all the technical talks, the new products in the exhibit hall, and the chance to network with other water and sewer professionals. In addition, I am excited that there will be three High Tech Operator courses held at Chicago’s Jardine Water Purification Plant (May 13-14, Aug 12-13, & Oct 20-21, And, if off-site travel is not possible, have an on-site brown bag lunch with your staff and watch one of ISAWWA’s huge variety of webinars. Your staff will appreciate it and give you back more than you put in.

It’s also a great idea to encourage them to volunteer for ISAWWA or national AWWA committees. Volunteering allows for making those key connections with other utilities and water experts that can really come in handy when problems arise. I can’t remember how many times I’ve sent a quick email to a colleague in the water industry that I’ve met through ISAWWA to ask "We’re having a problem with ______. How do you handle that?” And I’ve gotten both personal and professional fulfillment from serving on the WATERCON planning committee, and the Young Professional Committee, the Water Trailer Committee, and more recently the national committee helping to provide technical resources for updating the Lead and Copper Rule. Now is the time to encourage your staff to volunteer – AWWA’s national Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) will be held in Chicago in 2016. Sounds like a long time away, right? Wrong. ISAWWA has a skeleton planning committee that will start meeting in February. Yes, as in February 2014. And as we have learned from planning previous national conferences such as the one in 2010, we need a metric ton of volunteers. We need volunteers to fill in spots on the committee; we need volunteers to be on-site during the conference itself, and everything in between. If you are at all interested in volunteering, please contact me or Terry McGhee.

Let your staff know that they can have more than a job in the water industry, they can have a career.


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