ILLINOIS AMERICAN WATER NEWS DROP
We just announced that we’re investing over $3.5 million to improve operational efficiencies and enhance customer service to our service in Streator.
Illinois American Water’s Streator District is investing in a new operations and distribution facility. Construction on the new facility, which will be located on West Main Street in Streator, will begin this spring.
According to Jon Mase, operations superintendent for the Streator District, this investment of about $3.5 million will improve operational efficiencies and enhance customer service. “With the complex work we perform there’s a growing need for technology and training space as well as increased storage for tools and equipment. The new building will enhance our internal operations which will, as a result, support improved service to our customers,” said Mase.
The facility will be approximately 12,000 sq. ft. and will include an improved customer service area; expanded equipment storage and maintenance garage with five garage bays; and dedicated operations and maintenance areas.
Mase added that the new facility will “support employee safety.” He continued, “By improving efficiency, we help to prevent injury, and there’s nothing more important than ensuring our colleagues go home safe every day.”
Vissering Construction from Streator has been contracted to complete the construction. SUMAC, INC., a minority-owned firm, is the architect for this project. Construction is projected to be completed by the end of the year. For more information about Illinois American Water, visit www.illinoisamwater.com.
Illinois American Water Partners With Illinois Farmers to Prevent Over 29,000 Dry Tons of Residuals and Biosolids From Entering Landfills
In 2019, Illinois American Water partnered with Illinois farmers to apply over 29,000 dry tons of residuals and biosolids, rather than sending them to a landfill. The water treatment residuals and wastewater treatment biosolids from Illinois American Water’s Champaign County, Chicago Metro, Granite City, Peoria and Streator service areas were applied to agricultural fields across the state.
Biosolids are primarily organic materials produced during wastewater treatment. Residuals are produced during the water treatment process and are typically alum or lime based. These materials are beneficial for agricultural land application.
According to Ryan Schuler, environmental compliance supervisor for Illinois American Water and manager of the residual and biosolid reuse program, the partnership is a best practice supported by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He said, “We work closely with EPA and follow strict land application guidelines, ensuring the land application not only prevents material from entering landfills, but is also applied to farmland properly to decrease farming-related chemical use and adjust pH to further protect our natural resources.”
Solids generated from the water or wastewater treatment process are held in basins or drying lagoons. In the fall, after crops have been harvested, the alum residuals, lime residuals or biosolids are land applied. Farmers then plow the field after the application or in the spring to incorporate the residuals into the soil. Alum residuals benefit the farmland by helping with the retention of soil moisture, whereas lime residuals benefit the fields by adjusting pH to optimal levels. Biosolids add nitrogen and phosphorus to the agricultural fields.
Illinois American Water works with land application contractors to ensure the residuals are applied to farmland that has undergone required sampling. Also, application isn’t made to sites that are wet, frozen, or near a potable water supply. According to Schuler, there are a number of technical requirements, but the effort is worth it.
“We work with water, our most precious resource, daily. We know how important it is to protect our resources and to reuse what we can. Reusing these natural conditioners on farmland is one of the ways we implement green technology into our operations. We feel this is the right thing to do and we are thankful to the farmers who partner with us on this effort,” said Schuler.
Illinois American Water’s Pontiac District Awarded a Partnership in Conservation Award for Environmental Stewardship
Our Pontiac District was recently awarded a Partnership in Conservation Award from the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). The award was presented during the SWCD’s annual meeting.
According to the SWCD, the local water service team earned the recognition for environmental education and watershed protection efforts. Specifically, Illinois American Water’s Pontiac team partners with the SWCD to educate local youth about water quality and wise water use. The Pontiac District also participates in the Vermilion Watershed Task Force and local river cleanup efforts.
Corey Robinson, operations superintendent for Illinois American Water’s Pontiac District said of the award, “When your work, your passion, revolves around providing quality drinking water to your friends and neighbors, you know firsthand how important it is to help protect and conserve our water resources. We feel strongly about doing our part and we’re proud to partner with local organizations like the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District.”
In addition to partnering with the SWCD, Illinois American Water also works locally with Pontiac Township High School on proper pharmaceutical disposal programs, which help to protect water sources. The company has also supported student efforts for source water testing and the school's Operation Endangered Species and Alligator Snapping Turtle project.
Environmental grant funding has also been contributed to local environmental stewards like Pontiac Township High School, Trees Forever and the Conservation Technology Information Center’s Indian Creek Watershed project. The 2020 Illinois American Water Environmental Grant Program is currently accepting applications. The deadline is March 31, 2020. More information can be found at www.illinoisamwater.com.
Champaign Water Title!
The only thing better than winning awards for taste and quality once is being back-to-back champs two years in a row! Our Champaign, IL, team is going back to state after winning a 15 county competition.
Illinois American Water’s Champaign County District placed first in the 15-County Water Supply Operator Association’s water taste test competition. This is the second year in a row and the fourth time overall for this honor to be awarded to Illinois American Water’s Champaign County team.
A sample from the Mattis Water Treatment Plant was the winning entry. Water samples were judged on taste, odor and clarity.
As the regional winner, Illinois American Water’s Champaign County District will represent the region in the statewide taste test competition held during the Illinois Section of American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Conference, WATERCON 2020, in Springfield next month. The winner of the state competition will compete in AWWA’s national Best of the Best water taste test held during AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE20) in June. Over 12,000 water professionals across the country will gather at ACE20 where the best-tasting tap water in North America will be declared.
Brian Wiemers, senior manager of production, said, “We take great pride in the product we deliver to homes and businesses every day. Winning the regional taste test and the opportunity to compete on a state and, possibly, national level is a testament to our team’s commitment. We’re proud to provide award-winning drinking water to our friends and neighbors.”
Illinois American Water’s Champaign County District won national Best of the Best honors in 2005 and 2006. Illinois American Water is one of only two water systems to earn the national honor twice.
COVID-19 and our Commitment to Safety
American Water’s primary concern is the health and safety of our employees, families, customers and the communities we serve. For the latest information, situation updates and what you should know about the Coronavirus, please visit the Center for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Illinois American Water: Investing in Public Health & Safety
At Illinois American Water, our team knows the critical role we play in our customers’ daily lives. We’re a key ingredient in your cup of coffee and we support firefighters with the water they need for public safety, while also providing reliable sanitary service for public health. We keep life flowing.
This is why we continuously invest in the local water and/or wastewater infrastructure. In 2018 and 2019, Illinois American Water invested over $250 million to install over 70 miles of water and sewer mains. Water and wastewater treatment processes, equipment, security and technology were upgraded to provide safe drinking water and reliable sanitary service. In addition, hundreds of fire hydrants and water meters were installed or replaced.
The need to invest in this critical infrastructure isn’t unique to Illinois American Water. Communities across the country are facing significant and complex system upgrades which can no longer be delayed without risk to public health and safety. Funding these investments can be a challenge, especially in smaller communities where project costs for necessary infrastructure will dramatically increase rates. In addition to funding, many communities find it difficult to attract industry experts from the ever-shrinking pool of Class A water operators.
At Illinois American Water, over 70 Class A water operators monitor our operations around the clock. Thousands of water quality tests are conducted daily throughout the treatment process. Nationally, a team of PhDs are continuously researching and testing treatment methods for emerging contaminants. In the field, our skilled workforce maintains over 4,500 miles of water main located under streets, bridges and railways. This work, coupled with our proactive investment, ensures every drop of the 115 million gallons of water we deliver a day is safe.
Sterling Celebrates 4 years of safety
Our Sterling, IL, team recently celebrated 4 years of safety. We’re committed to our employees coming home each and every day as good or better than when they came into work.
Illinois American Water’s Sterling District is celebrating four years without experiencing any lost-time accidents. According to Operations Superintendent Charlotte Dunne, the Sterling District’s excellent safety record is a result of daily focus and commitment.
Illinois American Water employees work around the clock to provide critical water service to homes and businesses. To provide these critical services for public health, fire protection and household uses, employees may need to work in confined spaces, among motorists and in extreme weather. Employees may also handle chemicals, conduct excavation and operate equipment.
Dunne said, “Safety is on our minds every minute of every day. There is nothing more important than ensuring our employees go home in the same condition they arrived at work, if not better. We owe that to our coworkers and their families. There is no room for shortcuts when it comes to safety.”
To ensure safe work practices, Illinois American Water employees regularly attend both classroom and hands-on training. Employees also participate in facility and job site audits to ensure compliance with established workplace safety practices. The skilled workforce is also equipped with proper personal and work zone protection equipment, chemical handling requirements and training, work zone safety training, and more. Company contractors are held to the same safety expectations as employees.
Dunne said, “The work we do is complex. We continuously evaluate and act to remove hazards to prevent injuries. I am proud of our team and their continued years of excellence in safety.”
Illinois American Water’s Sterling District serves approximately 6,500 customer connections.
CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge
On January 16, Illinois American Water employees joined colleagues from across American Water for the first annual Inclusion Day. At events across our company, our employees committed to continuing to advance inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
In Illinois, employees joined in Inclusion Day by taking part in conversations and events, and by signing American Water’s Inclusion & Diversity Statement. Our Champaign County District employees collected donations for the Crisis Nursery, an organization that provides childcare for children up to six years old, free of charge, during a crisis situation.
Nationally, our President and CEO Susan Story signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge, committing herself personally and American Water to continuing to advance inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Chief Operating Officer and CEO-elect Walter Lynch joined Story in signing the pledge.
In photo, Inclusion & Diversity Champions Alexis Caston (left) and Ronne Gerdes are pictured in front of the signed Inclusion poster with some of the donations.
Community Project Grants
Water sustains and supports all life on earth. With an American Water Environmental Grant, your community or community-based organization can lend the water supply or watershed a helping hand by working to improve, restore or protect it. Eligible projects can receive up to $10,000, provided they meet the criteria.
The application deadline is March 31. Please visit our can be found on our Environmental Grant Program page for more information and application instructions.
Multiple ILAW Customers Competed in Makers Madness
Over a dozen Illinois American Water customers—and our water!—competed in the first round of the first ever “Makers Madness” contest hosted by the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association. Second round voting just opened and a few of our customer’s products are in a tight battle for the next round. These 16 Illinois products will continue competing in multiple rounds as voters decide which product is the Coolest Things Made in Illinois.
Take a look at the remaining products and vote at www.makersmadnessil.com.