“It was such an eye-opener,” Collaso says, “how they lived
and who they were … We really got to make a difference.”
Warner and her daughter, Hayden, spent the crisp fall morning handing out hat pins, kiddie tattoos and water-conservation
coloring books from under a gazebo.
Some residents brought out pictures of Orme as a bustling
mine town to share. They chatted with visitors about the hardship, and their hope, of keeping livestock thriving with just three
hours of water a day.
“One comes away with a very strong sense of family in Orme,”
Warner says. “They know their neighbors well and they work
together to find solutions to the challenges in their community.”
A late model series NASCAR was brought in, thanks to GDSI
of Columbia, Tenn., and helped entertain residents and their kids
while teams went to work on their antiquated plumbing fixtures.
Peoples Bank of Kimball provided a barbecue lunch for the
volunteers. Portable toilets had to be brought in for them, too.
At the end of the day, a resident who had declined a plumbing update for his home showed up at the fire hall. He wondered
if it was too late for his turn.
Exhausted plumbers hopped in a truck.
A THIRST QUENCHED
Orme is still the kind of town where they use a Halloween carnival or a dog show to put a few hundred bucks into a city
budget worn thin. But it’s a different place than it was before
Nov. 17. Volunteer efforts replumbed the town so much so that
the allowed three hours of daily usage became 12. Washing off
a plate with an updated faucet, for example, became a 3/4
-gal-lon-a-minute endeavor instead of a 10-gallon-a-minute waste.
The amount of water being used was the same, but the way
it was entering homes through conservation-savvy fixtures
allowed it to be stretched much, much further.
The town breathed an even bigger sigh of relief when the
pipeline connecting it to the water utility in Bridgeport, Ala.,
was finally finished.
“We all appreciate it so much,” says Reames, who doesn’t
ever again want the responsibility for cutting off his friends’
showers. “The whole thing really impressed me. I’d welcome
them here any time.”
It’s hard to gauge whether it was plumbing or people most
impacted from the day of the great toilet derby.
Warner, who traveled to Orme with her daughter, says, “It
really showed her the power of an event like this — the impact
it can have on a community. Personally and professionally, it
was an experience I will never forget.”
PMI’s Higgens says her association members have learned
the benefits of being able to act quickly and have a streamlined
chain of approval in place.
“Because Robert’s intentions were so genuine, there was
no rolling of the eyes by his competitors, just `Darn, I wish we
could have helped.’ Some companies just couldn’t act as fast,”
“What was great is that every association claims to be mem-ber-driven, but this truly was. It left no room for criticism, and
it left room for everyone. Orme was an opportunity to demonstrate where our members’ hearts were in the first place.”
As for Easter and that H20 Guard, they both got a great
SIMPLE STEPS TO BIG SAVINGS
The increase in environmental awareness — as well as the
2007 drought that ravaged the Southeast — has people
thinking more consciously about their water usage. Here are
some simple ways to save water and money:
• Don’t over water your lawn. Water every three to five
days in summer and 10-14 days in winter.
• To prevent water loss from evaporation, don’t water
your lawn during the hottest part of the day or when it
• Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when
they are fully loaded.
• Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave
instead of running water over it.
• When washing dishes by hand, use two basins — one
for washing and one for rinsing — rather than let the
• Use a broom, not a hose, to clean sidewalks and
• Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping
faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each
year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons
• Maintain a lawn height of 21/2 to 3 inches to help
protect the roots from heat stress and reduce the loss
of moisture to evaporation.
• Avoid planting turf in areas that are difficult to irrigate
properly such as steep inclines and isolated strips
along sidewalks and driveways.
• Aerate clay soils at least once a year to help the soil
• Mulch around plants, bushes and trees to help the soil
retain moisture, discourage the growth of weeds, and
provide essential nutrients.
• Plant in the spring or fall, when watering requirements
• Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep
water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
Source: Drinktap.org, presented by the American Water Works Association
workout in Orme.
“I had never encountered such bad water. Orme was the first
time we were able to figure out every variable to a clog,” he
says. “The water and sand from their pipeline construction was
awful, so it actually helped us troubleshoot. If we can do it here,
we can do it everywhere.”
“When you can meet your professional goals by solving the
world’s bigger problems … it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Susan Besze Wallace is a freelance writer living in Virginia. She may be reached
THE JULY 2008 SIGNATURE STORY features the Construction Career
Opportunity Program, an innovative initiative from the Builders Association
designed to create more long-term career opportunities for minorities in
Chicagoland’s construction industry. The Builders Association is a trade
association with 150 members, a staff of eight, and an annual budget of
$1.3 million. For more information, visit www.bldrs.org.