Local Union 25 works on a new barge for Living Lands & Water
QUAD CITIES: “It’s a beautiful place” states Chad Pregracke speaking about Living Lands & Waters new barge featuring a floating classroom and living quarters for the LL&W crew.
Chad Pregracke has been picking up trash from the Mississippi River since he was a teen. In 1998 at the age of twenty-three, he founded Living Lands & Waters, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to cleaning up and preserving our nation’s rivers. Since the project’s inception, Chad, his crew, and over 60,000 volunteers have collected over six million pounds of debris from our nation’s greatest rivers. Most recently, Chad expanded the mission of the organization to include Big River Educational Outreach, which included the need for a new floating classroom.
LL&W worked with partners to design the floating classroom that demonstrates several sustainable energy technologies. A steel structure was used for the frame that was salvaged in Davenport after the flood of 1993. The walls of the building are sided with reclaimed lumber from Hurricane Katrina and are fitted on two sides with glass garage doors that create an open-aired environment on days when the weather is suitable. Large, energy efficient picture windows on the upper deck give the participants an opportunity to experience a 360-degree view of the river. Window awnings, railings and more are built out of recycled materials and the classroom’s energy is derived from a four-panel photovoltaic system and wind turbine.
The living quarters for the LL&W crew include a full kitchen and male and female lavatories. The classroom is able to accommodate up to 50 participants and will serve as a facility for students and teachers to study environmental issues associated with large rivers.
“Seven to eight unions in four states did the work to build this structure, wire the building for electricity and install the piping and venting for the sewer, heating and cooling,” stated Pregracke.
Tom McCune, Business Manager for the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 25, said that members were honored to be a part of the project. “We had eight Local 25 members lead by Mark Runge volunteering for a three to four day stretch completing the gas piping and plumbing on the barge. It was great to be a part of such an important project in the Quad Cities area.”
“I have never worked with skilled labor before,” stated Pregracke. “I see why companies choose skilled labor to work with. They were so professional, safe, well-trained and they worked extremely fast.”
The floating classroom will hold its first educational event in Nashville at the end of October.
“We still have some minor details to finish up like painting, putting in lockers and other things that the crew can handle. The unions have completed their work and the barge is a beautiful facility that will be used for years to come by educators,” said Pregracke. “I can’t thank everybody enough for their support in making this happen.”