At Illinois American Water, our team knows the critical role we play in our customers’ daily lives. We’re a key ingredient in your coffee and we support firefighters with water needed for public safety, while also providing reliable sanitary service for public health.

This is why we invest in 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 isn’t unique to Illinois American Water. Communities across the country face 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 costs for necessary infrastructure may dramatically increase rates. In addition, many communities find it difficult to attract industry experts from the shrinking pool of Class A water operators.

At Illinois American Water, over 70 Class A water operators monitor operations around the clock. Thousands of water quality tests are conducted daily. Nationally, a team of PhDs research and test 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 proactive investment, ensures every drop of the 115 million gallons of water we deliver a day is safe.

We also partner with community leaders across Illinois to assume ownership and operation of their water and wastewater systems. Over the last two years, we’ve expanded services to 35,000 customers. Some of the communities we now serve were facing EPA consent decrees or water quality issues. Others simply had other priorities and wanted to turn over operations to the experts. In some cases, the communities were facing fiscal challenges. Every community is unique and we’re proud to partner with them.

At the end of every water pipe people are depending on us to provide life’s most critical need and every treatment plant serves as a barrier against potential disease. Providing safe, reliable water and/or wastewater service to our friends and family, to the manufacturing facilities making the products we use and to the water parks where our children play isn’t just our responsibility, it’s our calling.

Justin Ladner is president of Illinois American Water.