Sharon Waller Preaches the Importance of Water — Sharon Waller views water as an apolitical issue. She sees it as a matter for everyone in the region and that it’s essential to protect the Great Lakes which has 84 percent of the surface freshwater in North America.
“I’ve been out on the campaign trail, and you know, our politics are so divided right now and people ask me sometimes, ‘oh, are you Democrat or Republican?’ I say I am on the Democratic ballot, and if they’re a Republican, they’ll say, well, that’s the end of the conversation. I’m not talking to you and my counter is that your body is made up of 60% water. This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that is a matter of our life. Yet we are still discharging sewage into our drinking water supply up and down to the Gulf of Mexico.”
Practical Water Platform
Her vision is to promote practical and innovative environmental initiatives.
“In my work with water, I’ve worked on various water projects over my career. But the one that was kind of pivotal for me is when I worked for the State of California to determine if reciting drinking recycled water is feasible. And it turns out, yes, it is. But then also, this became quite evident to me that policy is what is allowing the implementation of technology and looking around at what other states are doing versus what I see in Illinois,” said Waller.
She said 34 states have water policies to support innovation and resilience for climate change for their businesses.
“This also touches on water affordability, and Illinois just doesn’t have that policy. At the same time that we’ve been sued. The state is one of 12 that have been sued for the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. And, interestingly enough, I plotted out the states that don’t have water policy and the states that have been sued, and there’s a great overlap,” said Waller. “So we’re all in the Mississippi River Basin. And we’re all contributing to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. So we have goals, we have to meet 25% by 2025. And we are not going to get there with that water policy. You can imagine that your state reps and senators are not necessarily going to get elected on water policy so it’s going to take some citizens and maybe some local officials supporting them and drawing them to these issues.”
Safe and readily available water is important for public health, whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production or recreational purposes. Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to poverty reduction.
“Most of my work has been in drinking water, and also water reuse. That’s one of those issues that if state reps and senators are committed to advancing legislation to ease the permitting requirements, and to bring down costs and to speed implementation of replacing those lead service lines, I will endorse them,” said Waller. “Water policy is the big rock, but that’s going to take a lot of public education. I believe that we are not well served by commissioners at large and that everyone would have a better voice if they knew personally, a commissioner that was familiar with the issues in their neighborhoods.”
Waller is a licensed professional engineer and scientist working in the water industry, educator, mother, K-Grade 8 enrichment advocate, and a long-time activist in my community on issues of public health and conservation.
If elected, she would be the only engineer on the Board and first-ever water engineer on the Board. Waller said she has dedicated her professional career to environmental protection and sustainability by supporting both industrial and municipal clients on management and infrastructure projects. As a member of the Water Efficiency Committee of the Illinois Section of American Water Works Association, she is working with water utilities throughout the state to promote water efficiency and update data for energy efficiency rebates. As River Park Advisory Council President and a volunteer for Friends of the Chicago River, she advocated for river recreational use via access to affordable boating programs provided by the Chicago Park District at the River Park boathouse.
Sharon Waller Preaches the Importance of Water