OPINION: Thank a union member for your safe drinking water

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By ALLAN J. BATHON
President
Utility Workers Union of America Local 335

May 3-9, was designated Drinking Water Week by the American Water Works Association. The goal is to educate the public as to where their drinking water comes from as well as connect with the community and help promote employee morale.

Far too often, the public takes their drinking water for granted and expect that it will flow out the tap every time it is needed. For the most part, the water will be there because of the dedicated men and women who serve their communities while working at water companies all across the United States.

Whether your drinking water comes from rivers, wells or surface water or is municipally or privately owned, the men and women who work there strive to ensure your water is safe for you and your family. Many are long-term employees, and many spend their entire careers in the water industry.

WE’RE ALWAYS THERE, NO MATTER WHAT
When they sign on for this job, they realize that this job is an essential service and the water must keep flowing. That is why you see water companies out in the street at all hours of the day no matter what the weather conditions.

They may be called out in the middle of the night to slosh around in the mud or the cold to repair a main break that could keep water out of many homes. Also, many plants are running 24 hours a day and staffed by Operators and personnel who keep the system up and running while processing water into usable drinking water.

We are blessed in the St. Louis area to have two great rivers in our country coming together and flowing as one. This gives a wealth of raw water that we can draw from and turn into drinking water.

The city of St. Louis draws from both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers while St. Louis County draws from the Missouri and the Meramec Rivers. Others may draw from wells that tap into the aquifers of these great rivers.

UNION WORKERS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Having an abundance of raw materials is a boon to any industry but what really makes the difference for our area water companies is the dedication and drive of the employees — the 340 members of Utility Workers Union of America Local 335, your brother and sister union members employed by Missouri-American Water in St. Louis County.

We provide drinking water to over 300,000 customers. We make sure there is water for your shower and coffee every morning. We make sure there is water for your swimming pools and icemakers when you are battling the hot St. Louis summers.

We make sure there is water that you can feel confident in drinking and using safely.

That is why you see crews out working to repair the system at all hours of the day or night, seven days a week. Many, as noted earlier, are long-time employees spending 20, 30 or 40 years in service to the public.

Their dedication to their work and their professionalism while doing their jobs shows every time you open your tap.

So let us all raise a glass of clear, clean drinking water to the brothers and sisters who have made it their mission to bring you that drink of refreshing water.

(Brother Bathon is a 35-year member of Local 335, and a Shop 1 mechanic at Missouri-American Water.)

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