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E-Splash August 2012 - District 2 Trustee - Jensen
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash -  August 2012


Don Jensen
District 2 Trustee

To quote Rahm Emanuel, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Wow! What a summer we've had.

So far our water sales are 20 percent above last year, with August yet to go. As everyone knows this has been a remarkably dry summer.

The headlines tell it best:

Worsening Illinois drought points to increasingly ominous signs for crops

Dry spell, which could becomes state's worst on record, may lead to higher food prices

U.S. drought worst since mid-'50s

The nation's widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States in some stage of drought

Areas in worst drought categories rise by 50 percent, US says

Illinois farmers' hopes drying up

Corn, soybean crops have been ravaged by drought

Crop Ratings Drop as Worst U.S. Drought Since 1956 Persists

While the increased revenue is welcome, especially in light of the recent rainy years, this has been a most difficult summer for water utilities.

Even though our city is fortunate enough to have Lake Michigan as our source, we still struggled to treat and deliver sufficient water to meet all of the irrigation demands of our customers. We even had to resort to a brief all-out outdoor water use ban early in July. I can only imagine the challenges faced by our down-state colleagues.

One unanticipated benefit of the drought is that it raised the public profile of the water industry. Many of us have had the ‘opportunity' to speak with the local media to explain the challenges that this drought has brought us.

This drought has afforded us an opportunity to inform our residents, through the press, of the issues that we face not only during a drought but on a day-to-day basis. It also gives us a chance to build relationships with the reporters who cover local issues. Such relationships can be vital down the road. The next time there is a NRDC media blitz, such as the ones about Chrome VI or pharmaceuticals and personal care products, your local reporter will know you personally and will be more likely to solicit your input on the story. A reporter who has had a chance to tour your plant and chat with your staff is bound to come away with a better appreciation of what it takes to provide safe water to a city and of the dedication of the professionals that provide that service.


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