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E-Splash November 2013 - Chair Report
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash - November 2013

Chair's Report
John Van Arsdel

"Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday . . .”

How well that is applied to our daily operations in the water industry. We do take a lot of things for granted in our day-to-day lives. We need to worry a little about tomorrow. If you do not think that you, as an individual, have an overall effect on things, you are making a mistake. This flashed a little clearer to me the other day as I was forced to cut a tree down in my yard. It was a medium to large tree that had suffered from the stress of drought and finally got hit with a disease. One tree . . . I thought it would not make a huge difference in the day-to-day activity around my house. But, alas, I was wrong. Once the tree was down, the look of the yard was completely changed forever. I noticed that my air conditioner ran a lot more as the heat was not being absorbed, and the house heated up that much more quickly during the day. It will be years before any tree I plant in its place will be able to accomplish what that one tree has been doing on its own for the last several years. Cutting down that tree was something that had to be done. If I had not done it, Mother Nature would have done it for me in a most unpredictable way. Our organization is faced with similar decisions from time to time, but we have control over them and we can direct how things get done. Can one person make a difference? Certainly, as part of a group, each one of us has the ability to effect change. Working together we can have amazing results.

In the world of water for ISAWWA, I see lots of people that are involved in the daily activities of providing the essential service of water to everyone, and I can only imagine what might be if just one of our water folks, for some reason, is missing. Yep, we probably could find a replacement but it just would not be the same. Everyone counts in their own way. Everyone has certain contributions that are indeed unique and add to the overall quality of the product and the service of water. Contributions made on a daily basis may be similar, but yet are unique and individual just like snowflakes. Our water folks work day in and day out through all types of weather, all types of situations, and provide the public with a high quality product and service. It is not missed until coffee cannot be made and/or toilets are not able to be flushed. We all provide something toward this valuable service.

Examples of contributions that have been made by ISAWWA members are not too far away. Recently, ISAWWA had some serious participation by our unique members. Earlier in September, the DSS ’13 was held in Itasca where several ISAWWA volunteers helped make AWWA attendees from across the country feel welcome and engaged. The contributions ranged from our local host, Mike Ramsey (nice work, Mike!!), to the volunteers at the very first Great Lakes Cup Tapping Contest, as well as others who helped as session moderators. This event allowed the Section to showcase our active membership. I am grateful to all those who came out and provided their time and participated in the events at the DSS. I know pretty much everyone who was there, but I am not sure I could rattle off all the names to give proper recognition without forgetting someone along the way. Everyone counted. Everyone had a unique part that they played. That event will be looked at as a model on "how to do it” by others. We were able to host other tapping teams from Wisconsin and a fine group of Ladies from Michigan. Our own tapping teams put on quite a performance with our own women’s team coming in second place!! Well done!

ISAWWA has so much happening at one time; it is like watching a juggler with several balls in the air! The DSS activity is one of many. The Distribution Committee outgrew its spot from its one-day show and thus is moving to Medinah. The MAC Committee is busy setting the stage for WATERCON ’14 in March. New events such as the Operations Challenge and Hydrant Hysteria are being planned. More than 20 people went to St. Charles in early September and worked through over 200 abstracts of papers for WATERCON. The joint conference with IWEA has enjoyed several years of success, and the abstracts submitted demonstrate this high level of involvement. As I write, this, the fall Visitation Day is gearing up for Litchfield. If one were to access our website and look at our calendar, it seems as though we have something going on almost every day (well… almost).

The students from NIU have been busy gathering up information and data for helping us map out our future. They will present their findings at the October Board meeting. Their insight and recommendations will have a bearing on what we do from this point forward. Yeah, we do need to worry just a wee bit about tomorrow. We have a lot going on. and the NIU students just might have some new ways we can continue to recruit new members and get them actively engaged. Their findings may not necessarily be earth shattering, but could be eye opening and provide very useful information that would help to give us a road map so that each individual of ISAWWA will have the opportunity to participate in shaping our future in the water industry as well as the direction of our Section.

I was asked a few years ago why it was important to be active in the Section. My response was geared a bit towards how to get something out of my activities. I told that person the standard stuff about gaining knowledge in the field, networking, enrichment and such. As a member I felt it was helpful for my personal growth to be active. In some small way that seemed a bit selfish, but as I became more engaged, along with acquiring new skills, I was able to make new friends (at least one or two along the way…); but I soon realized my activity with the Section and AWWA was actually shaping my future. I volunteered for a committee, later became a committee chair, ran for office and began the process of giving back to others what I had learned and experienced.

Remember, there are elections coming up for officers. Here is a real opportunity for the shaping of our future. If you do not vote, you will not have a voice in participation. Your vote counts, everyone’s vote counts. (Yeah, but it is just one vote, right? Yep, one vote… and it counts!). There are no excuses for not being part of this. Our future is ours to shape. Here is where you can "make it happen”. If you don’t vote, you can "watch it happen or wonder what just happened”.

As the leaves fall (soon…) and the white stuff drops, keep in mind all the activities that will lead us up to WATERCON ’14. You need to be there, you need to be part of this great meeting. Whether a single tree, or a single person, your participation is needed and will be missed if you are not there.


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