Illinois American Water recently announced that it has been selected by the American Water Works Assn. (AWWA) to receive the 2011 Communications Achievement Award for its outreach regarding proper pharmaceutical disposal. The award recognizes AWWA member organizations for fostering and supporting the development of public outreach programs and integrating public affairs as a core element of utility planning and management. According to Deirdre Mueller, public affairs manager for AWWA, “Many accomplished individuals and organizations were considered and the selection process was rigorous. AWWA’s Public Affairs Council selection committee was very impressed by the work Illinois American Water completed in 2011.” Founded in 1881, AWWA is an international nonprofit educational association dedicated to safe water and the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy for improving the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. Illinois American Water created and launched a public awareness campaign to educate the public about proper pharmaceutical disposal. Goals of the program include increasing awareness and reducing pharmaceuticals in water through the creation of community pharmaceutical disposal programs. Through these community programs supported by Illinois American Water, residents are encouraged to drop off their unwanted medications so they can be incinerated, which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal. Flushing medications down the toilet or the drain as well as throwing them in the trash are discouraged. “Permanent pharmaceutical disposal programs provide long-term protection of our water sources by ensuring proper disposal of unwanted medications,” said Karla Olson Teasley, Illinois American Water president. Through partnership and collaboration with local pharmacies, police departments and government officials, Illinois American Water has implemented and supported 25 pharmaceutical disposal programs across the state including sites in Alton, Bartonville, Belleville, Caseyville, Champaign, Chicago (two sites), Chillicothe, Collinsville, Fairmont, Maryville, Mt. Vernon, O’Fallon, Orland Hills, Pekin, Peoria (three sites), Peoria Heights, Pontiac, South Beloit, Sterling, Streator, Urbana and Waterloo. The pharmaceutical disposal programs were created through a model program developed by Pontiac Township High School students and their teacher Paul Ritter. The program, Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), is recognized by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, the Illinois EPA and the Department of Natural Resources as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs. Through Illinois American Water and P2D2’s efforts, thousands of pounds of unwanted medications have been properly disposed. AWWA’s Communications Achievement Award will be presented to Illinois American Water during AWWA’s national conference on Monday, June 11, 2012 in Dallas. Past recipients include San Francisco Public Utility Commission Water Quality Divsion, Metro Vancouver (B.C.), City of San Diego Public Utilities Department and Denver Water.
Source: American Water