My life’s work has been focused on ensuring the Peoria area and surrounding communities have safe drinking water. I have 27 years of experience in the water industry, with the bulk of my career spent in water quality and water testing. What I do—and what my team does every day—is personal to us. We know we are going to touch every customer, every day, through their tap water. This is a responsibility we take very seriously.
We also take the responsibility of protecting our precious water resources seriously. We conserve both energy and water wherever we can in the water production process. We also recycle materials and educate our customers about wise water use. We’ve found that by showing our customers—especially our youngest customers—how water is treated and delivered to their tap, they value it more. This leads to daily efforts to conserve and protect this most precious resource.
Although my team and I find water service incredibly interesting, we know we need to be creative when talking to students. That is why Illinois American Water has implemented art into its environmental stewardship efforts, challenging students to “imagine a day without water.”
Each year through our art contest, we ask third, fourth and fifth-grade students to draw a picture and write one sentence describing what a day without water means to them. Winning students can earn their classroom a $100 donation to be used for a celebration or supplies. Winning artwork is shared on social media, with local news outlets, and in Illinois American Water communication pieces.
While it’s hard to imagine even one day without water, our young customers truly understand the impact it would have on fire protection, sanitary services, plants, animals and more. By combining art with the science of water service, we are able to raise awareness and instill the value of water in our young customers. It’s important we continue to educate about the critical role of water service in our community. PM
Lori Horstman is a certified Class A water operator and production superintendent for Illinois American Water’s Peoria area and surrounding communities. All of last year’s winning artwork can be viewed at tinyurl.com/y7gjbbbg.