ISWS Website for Water Supply Operators Offers New Social Media Features, Illinois State Water Survey

ISWS Press Release

For Immediate Release June 6, 2011
ISWS Website for Water Supply Operators Offers New Social Media Features
Source:   
Contact:   
Steve Wilson - (217) 333-0956, sdwilson@illinois.edu
Lisa Sheppard - (217) 244-7270, sheppard@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Operators of water systems that serve small communities face many challenges:  overcoming compliance issues with few resources and a lack of money to train staff.  That’s where the Illinois State Water Survey’s www.smallwatersupply.org website can help.

New updates and use of social media on the site help operators find the best information they need quickly and efficiently, according to Steve Wilson, manager of the website and a Groundwater Hydrologist at the ISWS, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.

The website, which was launched in 2009, is a clearinghouse for free online resources.  To date, ISWS staff have found useful information from more than 750 organizations and agencies, and the site includes links to more than 10,000 free documents.

“Our job is to find resources and put them all in one place,” said Wilson, who supervises five students to seek out new information daily.  The website receives more than 1,000 hits per month.

Among the features provided include a continuing education calendar, since operators must have training to maintain their licenses.   A new page relays information on reporting to customers, another mandate, with best practices on how to communicate effectively.

Social media has expanded the service for small water supply operators.  On the site’s YouTube page, four videos show operators how to navigate the site.  Providing help for using the site is important, said Wilson, because many operators are not web savvy.

The site also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  Surprisingly, in a recent month, 11 percent of referrals to the site came from Twitter.

The site’s new newsletter has 350 followers. The site has a blog as well. On Mondays, the topics cover running your system like a business and compliance problems, since small systems make up 90 percent of systems out of compliance, Wilson said.

On Fridays, the site features Stuff We Love, which might be an organization, website, or document that staff feel is particularly helpful to operators.  Readers can follow the newsletter and blog to find updates and learn about new information that pertains to the industry.

If operators have difficulty downloading any information from the site, they can contact the staff at ISWS and receive a paper copy for free.  For more information, contact staff at (866) 522-2681; e-mail, info@smallwatersupply.org.

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