Two treatment plants, a utilities-savvy mayor, a call for tours and posters created by elementary students can mean only one thing: It's time for Drinking Water Week in Lawrence.
Pumping out 3.74 billion gallons of safe water a year -- or 47,228 gallons for every man, woman and child in town -- is cause for celebration among city officials, who will observe Drinking Water Week beginning Sunday.
Mayor Erv Hodges will proclaim the weeklong observance during Tuesday's Lawrence City Commission meeting, which begins at 6:45 p.m. at the commission's temporary meeting room in the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlets, Sixth and New Hampshire.
But that's not all.
Hodges, who worked as the city's utilities director in 1975-76, will put his treatment skills to work Monday and Tuesday at the city's two water treatment plants by suiting up for one-hour shifts as a plant operator.
Together, the plants produce about 10.2 million gallons of treated water a day, and Hodges knows how important the work is. He was working in Milwaukee in the early '90s, when a Cryptosporidium outbreak in the city's water supply sickened hundreds.
The stomachaches Hodges endured back then aren't much of a worry in Lawrence, where crews test regularly for the parasite.
"Very few of us realize the amount of treatment and testing that goes into ensuring that when the faucet goes on there's pure, potable water for us," Hodges said. "We just rely on our workers, and they come through."
Drinking Water Week is an educational campaign to promote the importance of safe drinking water. A key campaign element is showing how individuals can affect the quality and quantity of water they drink.
This year's theme: "Celebrate Water."
"Everyone is urged to get involved and find out more about one of our most precious resources -- water," said Shari Stamer, the city's water quality manager. "Providing safe drinking water should be everyone's business."
Stamer added that important water issues include water protection, water treatment methods, new technology and government regulations.
"Increased vigilance, optimization of water treatment processes and monitoring are some of our department practices that help ensure good quality in Lawrence's drinking water," Stamer said.
The city continues to meet federal and state drinking water standards and participates in the Partnership for Safe Drinking Water program, Stamer said.
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOAK IT UP
Events scheduled for Drinking Water Week in Lawrence, which begins Sunday:
Mayor Erv Hodges will work as a plant operator at the city's water treatment plants: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday at the Kaw Water Plant, 720 W. Third, and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Clinton Water Plant, 2101 Wakarusa.
Public tours of one or both of the treatment plants can be arranged by phoning Keith Whealy, supervisor of the Kaw plant, at 832-7826.
Posters from Dennis Dillehay's fourth-grade class at Hillcrest School will be displayed Tuesday in the commission's temporary meeting room at the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlets, Sixth and New Hampshire. The theme: "Why Water Is Important to Me."