Chair Report – John Van Arsdel

“Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the flowers is?”

Greetings to the Illinois Section members! I am in a slight recovery mode from WATERCON ’13. I say that because the conference was truly great with the number of attendees totaling higher than I can count. On Thursday morning of the conference, I was truly blessed and humbled as I was handed the gavel to lead as the xection Chair for this year. Kevin Lookis, don’t run too far… I will be calling on you for advice, so do not think you can run away. As I stated on that Thursday morning at breakfast to those who came to share a morning bite to eat, I am in awe, since I recall several years ago as I sat out in the audience and wondered what it would be like to be a part of the Board.  I watched with great interest as I witnessed water folks rise through the various offices and become Chairs and lead our Association to greatness. It has been a lot of work but more so, a lot of fun and enjoyment to be part of this great group of professionals. I truly appreciate this opportunity beyond words.

I think about the duties of being the Chair and when I have been asked what Chairs do, my immediate thought was to say “Chairs get sat on”. Well, not exactly… I am sure there will be trying times, as well as fun and rewards. The professional staff we have (Laurie, Lisa, and Sandi) really help us attain cult status – we are the envy of other sections. I have the opportunity to interact with other sections and we do indeed have a membership base that has been able to provide a wealth of talent and knowledge as demonstrated by our Conferences. Our professional sessions are numerous with a little something for everyone.

In April I attended the Distribution Conference in Countryside. There we had record breaking attendance for a one day event. There were over 200 people who came and participated. The Distribution Committee has done a great job with this event since it was started a few years ago. The calendar the Committee put together with the water tower photos is very nice. A lot of those towers have a bit of history behind them, and it is great to have the Water Tank Photo contest featured this way. Congratulations to Carpentersville for their first place photo of their tank.

I will be going to Milwaukee in a short while to attend the RMSO III for regional officer training. I will be escorted by a few other Illinois Section officers and staff. The goals are to come back to the Section with new training ideas conveyed by AWWA to assist us in the operation of our Section. What we learn here will go a long way to help provide quality leadership for the Section. This brings me to one of on my goals as Chair. I would like the Section to continue to provide leadership training and to do so by getting our message out that we can help ordinary people perform at extraordinary levels.  I was asked years ago by AWWA what they need to do to help us be better as a section. I answered that I thought part of our overall mission was to be able to provide not only up to date information about water and how to be better stewards, but to provide for leadership training as part of our activities. You see, it is estimated that 60% or so of our water folks will retire in the next 10 years. Who is going to replace us? Who is going to operate the water treatment plants?  Who will take charge of our Section?  Who will help design replacement infrastructure for our water systems? We have a great opportunity to be able to be able to shape tomorrow’s future leaders today. It is already built into what we now currently do as a section through our committee involvements, by holding and participating in the Section leadership, through our active education programs, through our tapping contests, meter madness contests, and even a new contest of hydrant assembly! We learn by doing.

Laurie D. has added a little saying at the bottom of her e-mails, “Make it happen, watch it happen or wonder what in the heck just happened”.  This is so true of what we do as a section. There is a bit of a catch… many people are not always in a position to think they can accomplish great things. However, there are several self-help books and courses that say all you need to do is reach inside and get a start. It is not always that easy. When I started in AWWA, I did not just wake up one day and discover how to do things. That was the catch… it started with someone asking me to become involved. Someone recognized I had at least some ability, so they asked me to get involved. I can only ask others to do the same. That is often all it takes to create enough confidence in someone to get them motivated to participate. Make it happen! Don’t let them watch it happen or wonder what just happened. We don’t always have a lot of time, but to give a little bit of time to make it happen goes a long way. Ten years from now there will be some new faces guiding our course of action. We need to help craft those new leaders, and we need to be able to replace that 60% who will be leaving us. That is a very daunting task and it is our responsibility.

Ok, I will step down from the soapbox now… Please, ask someone to be involved. Help develop that next world class leader in the water world. Ask us now and we can help show you how.

A quick “congratulations” to Tom Skelly, our newest Fuller Award recipient. Tom, you truly deserve that award.

Keep looking at our great website. It is full of activities, news, and events. I look forward to seeing all our Board members and committee chairs at our Strategic Planning on May 10th at our St. Charles office. Please come with your heads full of ideas so we can Make it Happen!


Why Do We Do This?

Mike Eisenhauer Cross-Connection Control Committee Chair

Sometimes in the world of cross-connection control and backflow prevention we lose sight of the forest because of all the trees. We become so completely focused on adhering to all of the regulatory rules and regulations that we sometimes forget to ask “why”. Why are the regulations written the way that they are?  Why do I administer my backflow program the way that I do?  What are we actually trying to accomplish?  Why, why, why?

The answers to almost all of the “whys” of effective cross-connection control management become very clear when we acknowledge and accept that backflow happens, and our job is to prevent it.

Our first responsibility is to ensure that no new cross-connections are created. Why? The simple answer is because this is the easiest part of effective cross-connection control. All new plumbing should be properly permitted allowing for plan review as well as actual on site plumbing inspections. Any hazardous connections will be identified by the plumbing inspector and the appropriate backflow prevention assembly will be required to be installed.

Now that we have a plan to protect all of the new plumbing installed, what about all of the old plumbing? By old plumbing I mean any plumbing that was installed prior the mid 1980’s when the Illinois Plumbing Code first required the installation of backflow prevention assemblies at unprotected cross-connections. Why?  There are hundreds or thousands or more of existing unprotected cross-connections in each and every water system. We never know exactly when backflow will happen but we can be absolutely certain that when it does occur and contamination of the water system is the result, that contamination will be from an unprotected cross-connection.

After the discovery and remediation of actual or potential cross-connections, the most important element of all effective cross-connection control programs is record keeping. Why? Each and every backflow prevention assembly that is being tracked in your record keeping system is, in fact, a known point of entry to the water system that can potentially allow a contaminated substance into the water system. All backflow prevention assemblies are mechanical devices and, as such, require routine maintenance and service to ensure that they are actually doing their job of protecting the water supply from contamination.

When the day-to-day frustrations of how to effectively manage your cross-connection control program are weighing on your shoulders, keep in mind the whys, and then it all becomes worthwhile.

Getting it Done In Washington DC.

John Dillon, Member of the Water Utility Council

Illinois Section AWWA was represented at the Annual Washington D.C. Fly-In on April 17 and 18, 2013 by Jerry Bever, John Donahue, John Dillon and Tom Skelly.  Also attending the Fly-In was Todd Gregory, on behalf of North Park Water District.  The annual fly-in event is co-sponsored by AWWA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF). There were more than 150 delegates in attendance representing AWWA and WEF sections from throughout the country.

The purpose of the annual fly-in event is to introduce AWWA and our Association’s resources to the members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The message we delivered included our Association’s ability to offer expert opinions about the pros/cons of potential laws affecting our industry and the monetary consequences of actions related to water laws. We also informed the legislative offices about our ability to bring issues back to the local level, through ISAWWA, and how water laws and financing decisions made in Washington affect the elected official’s constituents back home.

For 2013 our message was very clear about water and wastewater infrastructure and financing.  There is currently a Senate Bill (SB 601) moving forward that will complement the State Low Interest Loan Program (SRF’s).  A portion of S.B. 601 contains a pilot program titled Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Authority (WIFIA). WIFIA would provide additional loan funding resources for large water, wastewater or storm water projects in amounts exceeding $20 million.  By providing the additional funds for large projects, more SRF money would be available for the smaller projects which are so desperately needed as the water & wastewater infrastructure continues aging and is in need of replacement.

In addition, AWWA provided position papers on Water Infrastructure Bond programs including preserving Tax Exempt Municipal Bonds and a paper on evaluating the Affordability of Federal Water-Related Mandates. ISAWWA is strongly committed to working collaboratively with our national association to provide a uniform voice in advancing legislation which promotes our water industry.

L. to R. John Dillon, Tom Skelly, Jerry Bever, John Donahue and Todd Gregory.

Congratulations To Everyone

Congratulations to Everyone who Received an Award at the 2013 Annual ISAWWA Conference!

Terry McGhee, Awards Committee Chair

 We appreciate the dedication, service, and loyalty you have demonstrated to the water industry and to AWWA.

Please make sure you log-on to and follow the links to submit your nomination for the Thurston E. Larson Best Paper Award presented at the 2013 ISAWWA Annual Conference, if you haven’t already done so remember: “Your Vote Counts”!

Keep your eyes and ears open for possible candidates for the upcoming year’s awards, it’s never too early to nominate one of your colleagues. The 2013 award winners are presented below:

Young Professional Excellence Award – outstanding leadership and participation demonstrated as a Young Professional

Doug Strempek – City of Niles

Water Professional of the Year Award – dedication and motivation demonstrated through a career in the water works industry

Greg Swanson – City of Moline

Volunteer Appreciation Award – recognition of time and effort volunteered to the enhancement of the Illinois Section

Tony Cuzzone – City of Elmhurst
Randy Lusk –  M.E. Simpson

Thurston E. Larson Award – Best Paper at the 2011ISAWWA Conference

Wayne Nelson

Youth Outreach Recognition – This award recognizes individuals and organizations that make outstanding contributions toward meeting ISAWWA’s outreach goals by implementing outreach programs

Greg Swanson – City of Moline

Meritorious Service Award – To recognize an individual that has contributed valuable and significant volunteer time and effort to the Section activities and goals.

Mike Martens – Geneva

John Lechner Award of Excellence – An individual award of excellence to recognize a section Manufacturers/Associates  Council member who has demonstrated exemplary service to the drinking water community and to AWWA’s mission and goals.

Terry Locke – Flolo

E.D.U.C.A.T.E.  Award Educating the Drinking water Utility Commendation Award for Training Excellence.  This award is presented by the Education Committee and recognizes an individual that has contributed valuable and significant volunteer time and effort in the field of educating the drinking water community.

Mike Eisenhauer – Backflow Solutions

Safe Water Scholarship Awards – Multiple scholarships worth $500 to $1,000 each are available for students in the following programs:

  • Adult Continuing Education (full- or part-time)
  • College Undergraduate (full-time)
  • Technical School (full-time)
  • Enrichment Program (high school)

Brandon Ward
Ya Zhang
Nora Sadik
Marika Nell

 Silver Water Drop – Recognize those individual members who have provided valuable service and support for AWWA programs and goals through their long-standing Association membership (30 years)

Donn C. Firnbach
Brian R. Whiston
Mark G. Ehret
Daniel J. Kucera
James W. Winslade
Wayne Mitchell
Raymond R. Bowden
David L. Schonauer
Larry Lawson

Gold Water Drop – Recognize those individual members who have provided valuable service and support for AWWA programs and goals through their long-standing Association membership (50 years)

William M. Richards
Frank J. Furtan

Life Member – Recognize those individual members who have provided valuable service and support for AWWA programs and goals through their long-standing Association membership (30 years + 65 years of age)

Daniel Kucera

Quarter Century Service Award – 25 years of service to the industry

Dale James – North Park Public Water
Don Jensen – City of Highland Park
Howard Peskator – City of Highland Park
Jim Chang – City of Highland Park
Bill Stewart – City of Highland Park
William Brown – Crawford Murphy Tilly
Nick Stanley – Water Solutions Unlimited
Dab Bromberek – Village of Romeoville
Robert Wedell – Metropolitan Industries
E. James Wingfield – City of Decatur
Daniel Land – City of Decatur
Mike Bourgerie – City of Elgin
Dan Simons –Village of Lombard
Tom Byrd –Village of Lombard
Larry Trojanowski –Village of Lombard
Jim Izzi –Village of Lombard
Dominic Ostrick –Village of Lombard
Tom Ryan –Village of Lombard
Angela Podesta –Village of Lombard
Joe Buscemi –Village of Lombard
Jeff Drenth –Village of Lombard
Bryan Bartels –Village of Lombard
Tom Czajka –Village of Lombard
Dave Taylor –Village of Lombard

100 Year Club Award – Public water supplies that have served Illinois residents for 100 years

 Mount Carroll
Villa Park
Piper City
South Wilmington
Cedar Point Water Company
Peoria Heights
Highland Park