So what's not to love about a little stick figure with three-fingered hands, cuffed boots and an oversized water drop for a head?

Plenty, according to the members of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. The bicounty agency that provides water and sewer services for Montgomery and Prince George's counties is looking for a new logo.

The tiny cartoon figure, which also sports an upturned collar and a lively smile, is called Willing Water and has been the symbol for the sanitary commission for 24 years.

But now, commission members and staff are saying, he's become a little too old-fashioned and undignified for the agency's purposes.

"I have always considered it to be a friendly symbol," said Montgomery County Commissioner Leonard Teitelbaum. "But the consensus seems to be that it's time for him to go."

So the six commissioners voted last week to hire a consultant to help them replace the 1940s stick figure with something a little more modern.

Bob Spangler, director of public information for the American Water Works Association, said that Willing Water sprang up in the 1940s as a symbol for the water industry and has since been used by utilities across the country. But even the AWWA, an information group, has been phasing out Willing Water over the last five years, Spangler said.

"He's a nice little guy and he did a super job through the years," Spangler said.

"If you look you will see a rather distinct resemblance to the power industry's Reddy Kilowatt," added Spangler, who describes Willing Water as Disney-esque. The Potomac Electric Power Company abandoned Reddy Kilowatt, who had a light bulb for a head, in 1972.

John Brusnighan, the utility's general manager, arrived at the sanitary commission in 1961, the same time Willing Water did, and he is more reluctant to search for a replacement.

"Willing and I were classmates," he said.

But, he added: "We probably do need a new look to reflect utilities management in the '80s and '90s."

This is not the first time that Willing Water, who over the years has appeared in more than a dozen poses -- watering the lawn, taking a shower, even lighting birthday cakes -- has become an endangered symbol.

Two years ago, Marjorie Johnson, WSSC public information director, came up with a new logo consisting of a bicounty map, a giant water drop and the initials WSSC.

That suggestion was rejected by the six commissioners.

"They had an affectionate attachment to Willing," said Johnson, who like other commission staff sometimes refers to the figure as "he" instead of "it."

But now that change is in the air, Teitelbaum, for one, would like to see if the commission is willing to eliminate the logo and change the utility's name all at once.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, he said, should become simply the Washington Water and Sewer Commission.

"I often get a question, 'when are you going to pick up my trash?' " he said.