Cordell Samuels is a Past President of the Water Environment Federation and retired Plant Superintendent at the Region of Durham in Ontario, Canada. In this episode of Take It From The Top, a series of the Words On Water podcast, Cordell reflects on his experiences as WEF President and as a water professional that yielded helpful lessons for during the coronavirus pandemic. He discusses how sudden change is difficult for people and tells how as a new plant manager he made sure to connect with every staff member during a time of transition. Cordell also explains that clear communication and a focus on understanding is key across an organization.
Christina Willson is Assistant Regional Manager of Water at Horner and Shifrin and Jennifer Welsh is a Civil Engineer at the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District. In this episode Christina and Jennifer talk about the Collection Systems Digital Conference that opens June 2 and brings attendees a variety of content. They discuss how collection systems are part of the aging infrastructure challenge, the sector’s continued focus on inflow and infiltration, and the ways technology is changing collection systems.
Caitlin Feehin is the RiverRenew Program Manager and Allison Deines is a Senior Policy Analyst at Alexandria Renew Enterprises. In this episode Caitlin and Allison explain that the utility needed to continue construction during the coronavirus pandemic to meet a legal deadline for combine sewer system remediation. They discuss how AlexRenew used information from health authorities and other utilities to develop protocols to protect the health of employees and construction workers while allowing the project to continue. Caitlin and Allison also talk about the importance of messaging to the community during coronavirus, including explaining why and how construction is moving ahead.
Lorna Ernst is the Senior Director of Publishing and Andi Cale is the Senior Manager of Publishing at the Water Environment Federation. In this episode Lorna and Andi discuss Access Water, a new platform that organizes the information and technical content critical to the water sector into a single location. They explain it provides approximately 20,000 pieces of content, including conference papers, magazine articles, technical reports, fact sheets, compilations, and books. Lorna and Andi say Access Water is designed to fit the range of the water sector’s needs, from academic institutions that want to provide convenient access to the latest research for students to water resource recovery facilities improving operations through innovation. Visit www.accesswater.org
Bob Dabkowski and Steve Myers are Applications Development Managers with Hach. In this episode Bob and Steve discuss the historic and current focus on nutrient management at wastewater facilities. They explain how regulations aiming to improve water quality in streams, rivers, and other water bodies are driving a trend toward more nutrient removal. Bob and Steve talk about ways to decrease costs and increase reliability in nutrient removal, as well as the opportunities presented by changing technology.
Kari Brisolara is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Louisiana State University. In this episode Kari discusses a review of current science that finds there is no evidence supporting the transmission of coronavirus through the wastewater system to biosolids. Because the coronavirus is more susceptible to treatment, including heat, no additional protective equipment or measures are required for managing properly treated biosolids.
WEF is convening a series of roundtable discussions with leaders from across the water sector to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting operations, business, and people. The conversations are hosted by WEF Executive Director Walt Marlowe and explore current impacts, anticipated changes, and future plans in areas such as workforce, productivity, supply chain, projects, communication, and more. The guests for this episode are Kishia Powell, Commissioner for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management; Paul Vogel, Principal and President of Greeley and Hansen; and Neil McAdam, Senior Vice President at World Water Works.
Ed Holmes is the Director of Technical Training for DN Tanks. In this episode Ed discusses bringing students and young professionals into a company in a way that provides them with well-rounded development and integration into day-to-day activities. He shares his perspective on the strengths, interests, and motivations of today’s young professionals, and how they benefit a business. Ed also talks about the importance of lifelong learning in the water sector.
Dave Russell is the CEO of Global Environmental Operations. In this episode Dave explains the concept of a Black Swan, an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. He discusses how Black Swan events could impact the water sector and what hinders anticipation and preparation for such situations. Dave provides advice on how the water sector can be more ready and identifies a variety of resources to help.
WEF is convening a series of roundtable discussions with leaders from across the water sector to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting operations, business, and people. The conversations are hosted by WEF Executive Director Walt Marlowe and explore current impacts, anticipated changes, and future plans in areas such as workforce, productivity, supply chain, projects, communication, and more. The guests for this episode are Rich D’Amato, CEO of Brown and Caldwell; Patrick Decker, CEO of Xylem; Ted Henifin, General Manager of Hampton Roads Sanitation District; Yuvbir Singh, CEO of Suez Technologies and Solutions; and Cindy Wallis-Lage, President of Black & Veatch Global Water Business. The roundtable is hosted by Walt Marlowe, WEF Executive Director.
Katie Henderson is manager of the Value of Water Campaign for the U.S. Water Alliance. In this episode Katie shares the results of the 2020 Value of Water Index, a poll that shows 84 percent of American voters want state and federal leaders to invest in water infrastructure. She explains the support for water infrastructure investment cuts across demographic, political, and geographic divisions. Katie also discusses other findings from the poll including people’s perceptions of local water services, climate change, and PFAS.
This podcast introduces wastewater epidemiology and explains what information related to the detection of RNA of COVID-19 virus in wastewater does and does not tell us. Wastewater epidemiology has been used for decades to track the presence of infectious diseases such as polio in communities. It has also been used to aid in the response to the opioid epidemic. Now it has gained a role in guiding state and local public health responses to COVID-19 outbreaks. This episode is the audio from a webcast moderated by Dr. Kyle Bibby (University of Notre Dame) with several speakers including Dr. Mariana Matus (Biobot), Dr. Amy Kirby (CDC), and Dr. Jennifer Murphy (CDC).
Fred Andes is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg and the leader of the firm’s water team. In this episode Fred explains the County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving pollution discharges under the Clean Water Act, specifically whether pollution from a point of discharge into a groundwater source that can potentially reach navigable waterways must be regulated. He discusses the 6-3 decision, in which the Court ruled that such discharges into groundwater sources may potentially require permits as they may be the “functional equivalent of a direct discharge.” Fred also talks about potential implications of the ruling and specifically what it may mean for the wastewater sector.
Municipalities need federal assistance to fix aging stormwater infrastructure, reduce flood risk, and comply with the Clean Water Act requirements. This episode outlines the asks for federal assistance to help local communities and utilities to protect surface water sources in the U.S. and ensure public safety. Addressing long-term issues of funding, providing effective tools, environmental data and pollution source control are reasonable and practical for Congress and the Executive Branch to enact in water resources and infrastructure stimulus bills. This episode features audio from a Water Environment Federation webcast. The speakers are Steve Dye of WEF and Seth Brown and Scott Taylor of the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance.
During the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater utilities are essential for delivery of clean water and sanitation during the response. Ensuring those services during a pandemic while protecting human health and the environment requires strong leadership. This episode provides insights into key considerations for decision-makers and operational staff on the frontlines. This episode is the audio from a Water Environment Federation webcast. Speakers include George Hawkins of Moonshot Missions, Andy Kricun of Moonshot Missions, Todd Swingle of Toho Water Authority, and Bruce Husselbee of Hampton Roads Sanitation District.
Ted Corrigan is interim CEO and General Manager and Kyle Danley is Director of Water Production at Des Moines Water Works. In this episode Ted and Kyle explain how the utility responded to coronavirus by activating a long-standing response plan and having essential staff shelter-in-place at its three treatment facilities. They discuss how 20 employees will stay onsite for two week rotations, working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to provide clean water and sanitation for 500,000 people in central Iowa. Ted and Kyle say the staff understand they are serving in a public health role and helping their community, and that support is strong from external staff, the utility’s board, and the union.
During the coronavirus pandemic, water utilities are triggering their response plans for continuity of operations. A significant component during a pandemic is a consideration of critical functions that include essential personnel whose role does not allow for telework. Critical services must continue and COOP activities in the face of potentially severe staff shortages and absenteeism are of concern. This episode is the audio from a Water Environment Federation webcast. Speakers include Sue Schneider of Spartanburg Water, Joseph Lockler of Charlotte Water, John Bennett and Taylor Huynh of Trinity River Authority, Dusti Lowndes of DC Water, Cathy Davis of U.S. EPA, Teresa Jakubowski of Barnes & Thornburg, and Steve Frank of SDF Communications.
This episode is the audio from a Water Environment
Federation webcast. During the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater
utilities are currently triggering their response plans for continuity of
operations. These events also trigger regulatory issues under the Clean Water
Act as utilities work to maintain compliance during this pandemic. Utilities
need to consider special conditions in their Consent Decrees and/or permits,
consider regulatory obligations and maintain close contact with their
regulators. Speakers include Susan Sullivan, Executive Director of the New
England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission; Fred Andes, Partner at
Barnes & Thornburg in Chicago; Melanie Davenport, President of the
Association of Clean Water Administrators and Director of the Water Permitting
Division for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; and Shellie
Chard, Director of Water Quality for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental
Sarah Mason-Renton is Business Development Manger for Lystek. In this episode Sarah discusses the vital role of effective community engagement for biosolids projects, including the importance of listening and empathy as first steps. She talks about the public’s perceived benefits and concerns about biosolids. Sarah also explains how to craft a biosolids communication strategy that provides procedural justice and clarity about the decision-making process.
Celine Hyer is the Water Conveyance Lead for Arcadis North America and Eric Bindler is the Research Director for Digital Water at Bluefield Research. In this episode Celine and Eric discuss how pressures mounting on utilities to address human-centric challenges around affordability and resilience mean new strategies are needed to optimize limited resources. They explain the ways an advanced asset management framework can surpass traditional limitations and narrow U.S. utilities’ funding gap by $62.4 billion over the next decade. Celine and Eric detail drivers and enablers of change, workforce impacts, and steps utilities can take to be fit-for-future and foster thriving communities. Read the paper on advanced asset management.
Tom Ferguson is the Vice President of Programming for
Imagine H2O. In this episode Tom explains that Water Innovation Week will be focused
on “The Next Decade”, with an eclectic mix of water leaders, entrepreneurs,
investors and more exploring what is possible for the sector over the next 10
years. Tom also gazes into his crystal ball to predict that by 2030 there will
be significant investment in water, regionalization/consolidation of utilities,
a flood of tech crossing over from other industries, and a heavy emphasis on
communications and outreach.
Dr. Rasha Maal-Bared is Senior Microbiologist at EPCOR and Scott Schaefer is Wastewater Practice Leader at AE2S and Chair of WEF’s Disinfection & Public Health Committee. In this episode Rasha and Scott discuss the coronavirus, its origin, and the agencies involved in response. They explain why the water sector should pay attention to coronavirus, how treatment addresses the virus, and that water workers should follow standard safety protocol. Rasha and Scott say the water sector should stay informed of developments but remain calm.
Julie Nahrgang is the Executive Director of the Water
Environment Association of Texas. In this episode Julie talks about the misconceptions
and reality of water and environmental management in Texas. She discusses how
the size and geographic diversity of the state feeds into challenges and
opportunities. Julie also explains what is happening in Texas with communications,
stormwater management, produced water from oil and gas, and workforce
Toby Weir-Jones is the Chief Product Officer for Bayshore Networks. In this episode Toby talks about the water sector’s increasing emphasis on security assessments and what can be done to quickly implement practical solutions without creating a human capital gap. He discusses if the water industry is ready for attacks and how it compares to other industries. Toby also explains the opportunities for increasing security from both accidental and malicious threats.
George Sprouse is Manager of Process Engineering and
Research and Development at the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities and
Co-Chair of the 2020 Residuals
and Biosolids Conference. In this episode George explains the importance of
capturing the energy and nutrients that are concentrated in biosolids and
circulating those resources back into the community. He talks about using
creative approaches to manage biosolids during uncertain times, particularly with
PFAS concerns. George also discusses how the Metropolitan Council uses
biosolids to generate energy and the role of technology in the future of
John Fletcher is Atlantic Regional Manager at Duke’s Root Control and Kraig Moodie is President of FloWav. In this episode John and Kraig discuss the YH2O Mentoring Program that prepares young adults ages 18 to 24 to be employed in full-time jobs in the water industry and is run by the Baltimore Department of Public Works in partnership with the Chesapeake Water Environment Association. They explain that 97 percent of graduates have found employment in the public or private sectors in a variety of positions both in the field and in an office. John and Kraig talk about the program’s ability to transform lives, with many graduates having a checking account, apartment, or car for the first time.
Dr. Linda Lee is a Professor in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. In this episode Linda discusses the science of PFAS in water treatment, her recent article published in the Water Environment Research Journal, and how her work began 15 years ago when DuPont asked her to help expand knowledge of the so-called “forever chemicals.” She talks about current science on the presence and removal methods of PFAS in drinking water, wastewater, and biosolids. Linda also explains what is known about the fate and transport of PFAS into the soil, groundwater, and crops when biosolids are applied to agricultural land.
Steve Dye is the Legislative Director and Claudio Ternieden
is the Senior Director of Government Affairs for the Water Environment
Federation. In this episode Steve provides a preview of key issues for Congress
in 2020 including reauthorization of the Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund
and Water Infrastructure and Finance Innovation Act, legislation addressing
PFAS, and grants for SSO and CSO programs. Claudio discusses potential action
on regulatory topics including Waters of the United States, affordability, and
peak wet weather flow. They encourage attendance at Water Week in D.C. on April 27-28
and participation in the Water Advocates
Vaughan Harshman is Capital Sales Director at Evoqua Water
Technologies and Chair of the 2020 Odors
and Air Pollutants Conference. In this episode Vaughan discusses how odor
problems develop for water utilities, methods for controlling and reducing
odors, and community engagement that happens when there is a problem. He also
talks about corrosion issues that can accompany odors and the role of aging
infrastructure in odors.
Tom McGrain is a Water Quality Operator and Todd Saums is an Engineering Aide with the Northwestern Water and Sewer District in Wood County, Ohio. In this episode Tom and Todd discuss volunteering through Operators Without Borders to help in the Bahamas after the island nation was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in the fall of 2019. They talk about testing drinking water wells after the hurricane’s 23-foot storm surge caused extensive saltwater infiltration and then helping hydrologists scan for new wells to tap. Tom and Todd explain how Operations Challenge at WEFTEC connected them with Operators Without Borders and encourage others to support the organization at https://operatorswithoutborders.org/
Leslie Schehl is a Supervising Engineer at the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and John Phillips is Director of Integrated Watershed Management at Parametrix, as well as co-chairs of the 2020 National Stormwater Symposium. In this episode Leslie and John explain how climate change is altering rainfall patterns and posing challenges for stormwater management, particularly in the form of urban flooding. They talk about the adoption of digital technology across the sector and the rise of smart sewers. Leslie and John also discuss the ongoing issues of maintenance and funding of stormwater infrastructure.
Chris Hartman is a Stormwater Technical Specialist with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. In this episode Chris discusses the important role of green infrastructure in Project Clean Lake, the utility’s program to reduce pollution to Lake Erie. He explains that NEORSD decided to utilize the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program for training on the design, installation, and maintenance. Chris says the use of NGICP has led to several people gaining jobs to maintain green infrastructure in the greater Cleveland community.
In order, these are the most popular episodes of 2019 based on downloads by listeners:
Jon Schladweiler on the History of Sewers – Jon talks about the history of sewers, including the origins of sewers 5,500 years ago in what is now Pakistan, the introduction of clay pipes in Babylon, the Roman Empire’s improvements, and that the Dark Ages led to its rebirth.
Dr. Sally Brown on Communicating About Biosolids – Sally says biosolids are a science communication tool for the public and the sector must talk about the low level of risk from contaminants including PFAS compared to other household sources.
Jim Cooper on Demystifying Intelligent Water – Jim discusses a report done on how artificial intelligence and predictive analytics can help address two human-centric challenges facing the water sector: affordability and resilience.
Valerie Lucas on Connecting with the Public – Valerie explains why her organization changed its name to better communicate with the public about the water sector’s work and how she has seen the role of women in water change during her career.
Emily Feenstra is the Managing Director for Government Relations and Infrastructure Initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers. In this episode Emily discusses the decision to add stormwater to ASCE’s Infrastructure Report Card, particularly because of data collection by the Water Environment Federation and National Municipal Stormwater Alliance. She talks about the how the report card is produced and used, as well as the recent grades for water infrastructure. Emily also outlines how the report card has impacted public opinion, policy, and funding over the years.
Andrew Minogue is the Director of Engineering at DN Tanks. In this episode Andrew explains the swift, significant shift in the security of water tanks after September 11 and outlines today’s standard practices for securing the critical infrastructure and protecting the water supply. He talks about the recent trend of adding mixing systems to tanks to circulate water, prevent stagnation, and improve quality. Andrew also discusses how tanks fits into the aging infrastructure picture, noting that concrete tanks have a long lifespan.
Ifetayo Venner is Water Sustainability Leader and Wastewater Service Line Leader at Arcadis and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation. In this episode Ifetayo explains how growing up in the Caribbean led her to work in water and how her varied educational experiences and degrees shaped her career. She talks about the reasons the water sector needs to increase its diversity, not just in gender and race, but also in skill sets, education, perspectives, and life background. Ifetayo discusses how students and young professionals should seek out a variety of experiences to discover the direction that is best for them.
Valerie Lucas is the Executive Director of the Clean Water
Professionals of Kentucky & Tennessee. In this episode Valerie explains why
the organization changed its name to better communicate with the public about the
water sector’s work. She talks about collaborating with the Louisville water utilities
and four breweries to create their version of Pure Water Brew called Next
Round. Valerie also discusses how she has seen the role of women in water
change during her career and why it is important to increase the number of
women in the industry.
Kelly Trott is Senior Director of Imagine H2O. In this episode Kelly discusses the role that technology can play in solving urban water challenges, particularly as the global population further shifts to cities. She explains how catalytic funding and patient capital can create pilot opportunities and partnerships for entrepreneurs. Kelly also talks about the transferability of solutions across urban areas and how a certain innovative approach may work for one city and not another.
Sonja Michaluk is a high school student and the winner of the 2019 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the nation’s most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. In this episode Sonja discusses how she explored the use of DNA barcoding to measure the health of waterways with larval Chironomidae, the most widespread macroinvertebrate family. She talks about her interest in the intersection of science and public policy and making data the language of debate. Sonja tells how her research caused a town board to change the planned path of a roadway to avoid a healthy creek.
Dr. Jackie King is the 2019 Stockholm Prize Laureate for her game-changing contributions to global river management. In this episode Jackie explains how she advanced the scientific understanding of water flows, giving decision-makers methods and tools to assess the full range of costs and benefits when managing or developing river systems. She also discusses feedback from young female scientists and her plans to further help Africa’s rivers.
Jackie Jarrell is the new President of the Board of Trustees of the Water Environment Federation and Operations Chief at Charlotte Water. In this episode Jackie talks about the value of WEF membership, including how networking and educational opportunities fueled her professional growth. She says that expanding the water workforce, increasing diversity and inclusion, and gaining attention for operators are among her priorities for WEF during the upcoming year. Jackie also discusses why she enjoys working at Charlotte Water and the benefits of engaging with the water sector in other countries.
Adam Blaser is a Regional Manager for DN Tanks. In this episode Adam explains
how the water sector uses concrete tanks for a wide variety of essential
purposes and how they have evolved over more than a century of use. He talks
about the options utilities have to replace or rehab concrete tanks, including
to address changing needs for water quality, sanitation, and security. Adam
also talks about the resilience of tanks to natural disasters such as
earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
Susan Moisio is Global Solutions Director for Conveyance and Storage for Jacobs. In this episode Susan discusses how sanitary sewers, particularly in coastal areas, are impacted by infiltration from increased rainfall, sea level rise, and higher groundwater tables from climate change. She explains how the impacts are assessed by reviewing the historical record, analyzing the current sewer system, and consulting with climate scientists. Susan says sanitary sewers can be rehabbed to increase resilience to climate change but a lack of financial resources for such projects is the greatest challenge.
Melissa Meeker is Director of The Water Tower for Gwinnett County, Esteban Azagra is Water Business Advisory Lead for Arcadis North America, and Zakiya Seymour is Principal Management Consultant for Arcadis North America. In this episode they discuss the most important attributes of a fit-for-future water utility, offering adjectives such as tactical, human-centric, and connective. Melissa, Esteban, and Zakiya explain the roles that a diverse workforce, advanced technology, innovation, and culture play in utility resilience. They also talk about the growth potential for software developers, information security analysts, and marketing specialists as water occupations. For more information about utility resilience, visit: www.arcadis.com/utilityresilience
Kevin Marsh is the President of FlowWorks. In this episode, Kevin discusses the growing role of machine learning in flow forecasting, which involves using historical data and weather models to forecast the impacts of wet weather on water infrastructure. He says that advance notice allows utilities to plan and the public to be alerted about events like combined sewer overflows, and that forecasting will become far more common with the increase in data, internet connectivity, and cloud computing. Kevin discusses how changing weather and climate uncertainty are causing utilities to want to better understand how systems are affected by rain events.
At AdEdge, Richard Cavagnaro is CEO, Jose Villena is COO, and Carolyn Spencer is Human Resources Manager. In this episode they talk about the importance of workplace culture to employee happiness and productivity, as well as the external reputation of the company. Richard, Jose, and Carolyn discuss the concept of living happy at work and how cultivating that culture starts at the top, takes effort to maintain, and involves showing new staff it is a priority.
WEFTEC 2019, the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference, will be held September 21-25 in Chicago. This episode provides a preview of content in the program topic areas of research, utility management, future issues, and municipal design, including suggestions for highly recommended sessions to attend.
Carlos Williams and Steve Myers are Application Development Managers at Hach. In this episode, Carlos and Steve discuss how higher temperatures affect wastewater and drinking water plant operations. They talk about the impact of water temperatures on aeration, bacteria, phosphorous removal and collection systems and what else can impact water treatment, including rainfall.
Welcome to a mashup episode of the Words On Water podcast and Water In Real Life podcast that explores the role of communications in building the next generation water workforce. Listen to Travis Loop of the Water Environment Federation and Stephanie Zavala and Arianne Shipley of Rogue Water, aka The H2duO, discuss the importance of internal communications that excites and inspires employees to be working in water, shows they are part of a talented team, and highlights their work to the public. Travis, Stephanie, and Arianne also stress that water utilities could emphasis innovation and technology in external marketing, display more personality to the community, get creative with storytelling, and create exciting job titles and descriptions.
Episode #102 Hosted by Travis Loop, Stephanie Zavala, and Arianne Shipley.
Dave Elias is Southeast Regional Manager with Airvac. In this episode Dave explains how vacuum sewer systems work and why they often replace septic systems in low-lying, coastal areas. He shares some stories about the tangible benefits of vacuum systems in Florida, including at Crystal River, Indian River Lagoon, and the Keys. Dave also discusses how vacuum systems are resilient to major storms and hurricanes.
Noah Loop is the 11-year-old son of Travis Loop, host of the Words On Water Podcast. In this episode, father and son talk about why water is important, favorite activities when living by the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, and GenX pollution in the drinking water in their community of Wilmington, N.C. Noah and Travis also talk about marine biology, plastic pollution, and climate change.
Brown is a Research Professor in the School of Environmental and Forest
Sciences at the University of Washington. In this episode, Sally says biosolids
are a science communication tool for the public, particularly as learning about
the benefits help them get over the yuck factor. She also discusses innovative
ways to use biosolids, including in urban stormwater management and growing cannabis.
Sally says decades of research have shown biosolids to be safe and the sector
must talk about the low level of risk from contaminants including PFAS compared
to other household sources.
Greg Quist is CEO of SmartCover Systems, on the Board of Directors of the Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District, and Chair of the Urban Water Institute. In this episode Greg discusses real-time monitoring of sewers and the role of smartphones and satellites in water management. He talks about founding a number of water companies and his frustration with the sector’s slow adoption of technology. Greg also shares his views on water in Southern California, including the changes he has seen and optimism for solutions.
Jon Schladweiler is the historian for the AZ Water Association and curator of The Sewer History Exhibit. In this episode Jon talks about the history of sewers, including the origins of sewers 5,500 years ago in what is now Pakistan, the introduction of clay pipes in Babylon, the Roman Empire’s improvements, and that the Dark Ages led to its rebirth. He explains how combined sewer systems and separate sewer systems developed in the United States, and how demand and funding for the infrastructure played a role. Jon says sewers are one of civilization’s most significant achievements for human health and that the perfect sewer has not yet been built.
is Public Affairs Supervisor for the San Diego County Water Authority. In this
episode Teresa says developing and retaining current employees is a vital part
of shaping the next generation of the water workforce. She discusses how
employees should be connected to an organization’s priorities in communications,
policy, and the community. Teresa explains that employees should feel part of an
innovative culture and be encouraged to think about the direction of their
is Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia. In this
episode Adam provides an overview of the water utility sector in Australia and issues
such as urbanization, extreme drought, water reuse, and energy neutrality. He
also explains the water sector’s focus on customer value, affordability,
stormwater, and community livability. Adam discusses the special collaborative
relationship that Australia has with the United States and United Kingdom.
Lori Weigel is Principal at New Bridge Strategy. In this episode Lori discusses the results of an annual public opinion poll conducted through the Value of Water Campaign, which found that 85 percent of voters support increased funding for water infrastructure, a level of support that cuts across demographics, geography, party affiliation, and income level. She also talks about questions on affordability that show four in five voters believe water rates are affordable and are willing to pay more. Lori also explains that only 12 percent of voters are familiar with recycled water.
Bryan Stubbs is the President and Executive Director of the Cleveland Water Alliance. In this episode Bryan explains how the water technology cluster brings together utilities, companies, universities, and others to spur innovation and drive the region’s blue economy. He discusses how local problems with nutrient pollution and harmful algae blooms has led to a focus on monitoring, remote sensing, and connected systems. Bryan also talks about the Erie Hack innovation challenge, the comeback of the Cuyahoga River, and citizenship for the lake.
Lori Harrison is Director of Creative Projects and Jon Harrison is Art Director at the Water Environment Federation. In this episode Lori and Jon talk about Why Water’s Worth It, a fun and engaging children’s book featuring a little girl who guides readers through the world of clean water, how it’s managed, and the importance of everyone working together to protect it. They discuss the positive response to the book, how it can be used as a public outreach tool and STEM resource, and versions to be released in Spanish and French. Lori and Jon also explain what it was like to write and illustrate the book, with its rhyming text and more than 40 original, hand-drawn illustrations. The book can be ordered on WEF’s website, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.
Jim Cooper is Intelligent Water Lead at Arcadis. In this episode Jim discusses a new report done in collaboration with Bluefield Research on how artificial intelligence and predictive analytics can help address two human-centric challenges facing the water sector: affordability and resilience. He explains the concept of collective intelligence, which is “people plus technology,” and how a digital future can empower employees, not replace them. Jim says the sector is at a tipping point where early adopters of intelligent water are reaping multifaceted benefits.
is the General Manager of the Moulton Niguel Water District. In this episode
Joone discusses the need for water utilities to think about the kind of
business they will be in five to 10 years and the type of talent that should be
cultivated for that workforce. She says her utility has hired data scientists
and coders and worked with Netflix and Microsoft because better information
leads to better decisions. Joone explains that she spends more time on hiring than
many of her counterparts and selects people based on potential and attitude
rather than tenure, which creates an energetic and engaged workplace.
Saul Kinter is Business Development Manager at DC Water. In this episode, Saul explains how the utility has built support for biosolids – including its Bloom soil amendment – from third-party validators including soil scientists, farmers, homeowners, and construction companies. He discusses the need to build understanding of biosolids in the community and that meeting directly with people is vital because any message spreads best by word-of-mouth. Saul says to gain third-party endorsement of a product and drive sales, a utility needs the science, data, and research to back up the marketing.
Fariha Hassan is a project manager and Brit Merola is an applications
engineer at AdEdge. In this episode, Fariha and Brit explain the process of dewatering,
including why it is necessary, how the water is treated, and the role of
regulations. They discuss the typical water quality challenges and the great
variability from project to project. Fariha and Brit also talk about
improvements and changes taking place in dewatering.
Adam Tank is the Director of Digital Transformation at
Organica Water. In this episode Adam says to build public support and attract
the next generation of the workforce the water sector needs to be more creative
and much bolder in communications, including telling stories about its work and
using appealing job titles. He also discusses his view that the water sector is
behind other industries in digital transformation and that utilities should pay
closer attention to why and how they go digital.
Indra Maharjan is the Director of Innovation, Technology and Alternate Delivery at the Ontario Clean Water Agency in Canada. In this episode Indra explains how new technology, right-sizing equipment, conservation programs, and behavior change have increased energy efficiency at water facilities. He also discusses differences in the water sector between Canada and the U.S., including the size and ownership of systems as well as government-led efforts to address climate change. Indra also talks about starting his career in water in Nepal, where even as a part of management he was involved in the groundwork of operating traditional systems.
Steven Drangsholt is Northwest Infrastructure Market Sales Leader for Brown and Caldwell and a member of the House of Delegates for the Water Environment Federation. In this episode, Steve shares his view that mentorship is how different people bring you along in different ways at different times. He explains that the types of mentorship he needed for professional growth evolved from a technical focus to soft skills to leadership. Steve says that mentorships do not have to be part of formal programs and that organic relationships can be very impactful.
Mel Butcher is an engineering consultant at Arcadis, facilitates a career support group for women in male-dominated fields called CollabSuite, and is launching a podcast for Empowering Women in Industry. In this episode, Mel discusses what the low number of women in the water workforce means for those individuals and the whole sector. She talks about challenges women continue to face, from overt sexism to unconscious bias, and how both male and female colleagues can be allies in addressing these obstacles. Mel also says that there are many opportunities for women to have an impact on solving water challenges and the sector should have more honest conversations about diversity and inclusion to better reflect the communities they serve.
Marcus Quigley is a senior advisor for
Opti. In this episode, Marcus discusses how stormwater is an important area for
both water quality and water quantity, and how the challenge is amplified by aging
infrastructure and continued development. He explains that local elected
officials are motivated by the many community benefits of managing stormwater.
Marcus also talks about the role of technology such as cloud computing and
wireless communications in improving stormwater management and adapting to
Jenelle Watson is the Manager of Treatment and Resources at Melbourne Water in Australia. In this episode Jenelle explains how Melbourne Water is working to meet its obligation to be net-zero by 2030. She says the utility is identifying ways to eliminate demand and increase energy efficiency, while also advancing a series of renewable energy projects including solar, mini-hydros, and biogas. Jenelle also discusses how Melbourne Water must build resilience to sea level rise, which will inundate its largest treatment plant.
Ingrid Bella on BAYWORK Ingrid discusses the origins of BAYWORK, its focus on showcasing water sector jobs to students and educators, and the many resources available to help utilities address workforce challenges.
Haley Falconer on Sustainability in Boise Haley discusses managing environmental services for one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and how water fits in the portfolio with energy, waste, and air quality.
Abigail Gardner on Public Opinion Poll Results Abigail talks about the results of a public opinion poll that found 88 percent of voters support increasing federal investment to rebuild America’s water infrastructure and how that support cuts across age, gender, political party, and geography.
Kishia Powell on Atlanta’s Community Investments Kishia discusses Atlanta’s extensive use of green infrastructure, including using it to create public spaces such as the Historic Fourth Ward Park and to educate citizens on water management.
Britt Sheinbaum on Conflict and Resolution Britt discusses her view that water conflict is an opportunity for cooperation, the role of water scarcity in tensions in places like Syria, and the remarkable cooperation found along transboundary waters.
Kathryn Sorenson on Water in Phoenix Kathryn discusses how the utility collects, distributes, and treats water in the desert home of the fifth-most populated city in the United States.
Cameron Davis is Vice President at GEI Consultants and a Commissioner for the Metropolitan Water District of Greater Chicago. He was formerly the Senior Advisor for the Great Lakes for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. In this episode, Cam talks about the experience of running for an elected office, the role of a water commissioner, and his focus on the issues of infrastructure, equity, and climate change. He also discusses the need to care for the Great Lakes, including through collaboration with Canada and by dealing with nutrient pollution, invasive species, and habitat loss.
Mohammad Abdulatif is superintendent for
the Dhahran Water Operations Division in Saudi Aramco and founder of the Saudi
Arabia Water Environment Association. In this episode, Mohammad discusses water
management in Saudi Arabia, including the extensive use of desalination,
requirements for reuse for industry, and prioritization of agricultural crops that
require less water. He talks about the challenges of growing water demand in an
arid country and how Saudi Vision 2030 features a focus on a sustainable water
sector, supported by government investment. Mohammad also explains efforts to
educate the public, including children, about water conservation.
John Van Nostrand is the South and Municipal Manager for FLEXIM.
In this episode, John explains the role and importance of flow metering for
water utilities in collections, treatment, and distribution. He discusses the
problem of water loss and leaks, and how flow meters can be used to monitor the
integrity of a system. John talks about the problem of aging infrastructure and
improperly installed meters, as well as how improvements in technology allow
for tracking of extremely low flows, particularly during off-peak times for
Tom Ferguson is the Vice President of Programming
at Imagine H2O. In this episode, Tom discusses why the focus of the 2019 Innovation Summit
is on “The Next Generation.” He talks about the ways the water sector must
consider innovation in attracting, hiring, and retaining talent; in shaping
internal culture; and in seizing the technology opportunity. Tom also explains
how people from outside of water can provide valuable ideas and inspiration for
those in the industry.
Adam Davis is Senior Counsel at DHM Research. In this episode Adam discusses results of a national opinion survey conducted with Blue Drop that found one-third of people do not know the source of their drinking water and two-thirds do not know the destination of their wastewater after it is cleaned. He also shares that 50 percent aren’t familiar with the quality of their drinking water and three-quarters don’t know about water infrastructure projects in their community. Adam explains how a lack of public awareness can lead to other types of infrastructure and services being prioritized for investment before water. He says it is important for utilities to poll locally, engage customers, use focus groups, and partner with other organizations as a way to build relationships.
Haley Falconer is Environmental Division Senior Manager for
the City of Boise. In this episode, Haley discusses managing environmental
services for one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and how water fits
in the portfolio with energy, waste, and air quality. She talks about the
choice by Boise to use the term “water renewal facilities” and familiarizing
the public with the phrase. Haley reflects on Boise’s recent experience producing
several beers and ciders with purified wastewater. She also explains why she
has been a very active volunteer for the Water Environment Federation.
Mark Schleifstein is a Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental reporter for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans and for NOLA.com. In this episode Mark explains why he has stayed in environmental reporting for 35 years, how major cuts to newsrooms have impacted journalism, and what types of water stories resonate with the public. He talks about several high-profile issues he has covered including the loss of wetlands along Louisiana’s coast, health of the Mississippi River, dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, impacts of the BP oil spill, and Hurricane Katrina. Mark also discusses the infrastructure challenges in New Orleans and provides advice for water utilities on working with the media.
Gary Belan is the Senior Director of the Clean Water Supply Program at American Rivers and Janet Clements is the Senior Water Resource Economist at Corona Environmental Consulting. In this episode, Gary and Janet discuss Stormwater Currency, a collaboration with the Water Environment Federation to develop private financing options for green infrastructure. They explain how, with support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the organizations will work with utilities in Grand Rapids, Michigan to develop a stormwater credit trading program and in Cleveland, Ohio to optimize a green infrastructure grant program. Gary and Janet say the goal is also to enable the strategies to be scaled throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond.
Dr. Jason He is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech and the new Editor-In-Chief of the Water Environment Research (WER) Journal. In this episode, Jason explains that while it is an exciting time to be water research, it can be challenging to address all the areas of need, such as on emerging contaminants, and to secure funding. He also discusses the history and importance of WER to the water sector, as well as the overall role of peer-reviewed journals in providing high-quality research. Jason talks about recent changes to the journal, including a publishing partnership with Wiley, a new editorial board, and an emphasis on practical research, case studies, and viewpoint columns.
Angeliki Rigos is the Executive Director of the Tata Center for Technology and Design at MIT. In this episode Angeliki explains the Tata Center’s focus on advancing disruptive technologies and the example of a start-up that collects water from the cooling towers of power plants. She says more scientists should be active advocates for sustainability and that she encourages women scientists to become leaders in society. Angeliki also discusses how water issues aren’t separate from other sustainability challenges and how water scientists should work across boundaries with other disciplines.
John Gonzalez is Manager of Communications at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. In this episode, John discusses how the utility uses its wildly popular and funny Twitter account @neorsd to educate, engage, and entertain customers. He explains that to gain creative freedom on social media there is a need to build trust with management, particularly by being clear about strategy, structure, and substance. John says that to maximize the impact of Twitter, utilities must latch onto trending topics, be timely, and localize content for followers.
Gilbert Trejo is the Chief Technical Officer for El Paso Water. In this episode, Gilbert discusses the utility’s direct potable reuse project that will put wastewater effluent through several types of advanced treatment and then distribute it directly into the drinking water system. He explains this project is part of El Paso’s long-running emphasis on diversifying its water resources portfolio. Gilbert said a survey of customers found that 85 percent said they would drink this water. He also talks about the process of working with state regulators, a visit by CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and how the use of “toilet to tap” is an opportunity to educate.
InFLOW is a new program from the Water Environment Federation that stands for Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water. In this episode, WEF staff Morgan Brown and Rahkia Nance explain that InFLOW identifies promising students from underrepresented minority groups who are interested in professional careers in the water industry and provides them scholarships to attend WEFTEC. In its first year, 16 students from Howard University, Tuskegee University, and the University of South Florida participated in the program. Three of those students – Maya Carrasquillo, Sigmund Skinner, and Faith Oviawe – discuss their experiences with InFLOW and perspectives on water careers.
Will Sarni is the Founder and CEO of the Water Foundry. In this episode, Will discusses how he helps multinational companies to evaluate the value of water to their business, look at the growing risks around water, and develop mitigation strategies. He also talks about the ways digital technologies will transform our relationship with water, why the circular economy is vital for getting us away from wasting resources, and that more attention should be paid to the water-energy-food nexus. Will also shares that he is optimistic about the future of water and that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift driven by demand outpacing supply.
Jenelle Armstrong is the Utility Division Manager of The Thrasher Group. In this episode, Jenelle talks about how her time at the U.S. Naval Academy shaped her views on leadership and prepared her to be a woman in the male-dominated water industry. She also explains why military veterans make outstanding employees and are a great fit for the water sector, particularly because of their skill set, problem-solving ability, and public service mindset. Jenelle discusses the experience of living through the 2014 drinking water crisis in Charleston, West Virginia and what led her to create the hashtag #WipesClogPipes.
Dave Pedersen is the General Manager of the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District in Calabasas, California. In this episode, Dave and his colleagues tell the dramatic story of how the utility responded in the face of the Woolsey Fire, which scorched two-thirds of its service area. He explains how Las Virgenes MWD activated its emergency operations center, maintained power, tracked water levels, and kept in communication with firefighters in order to protect infrastructure and provide vital water for combating the wildfire. Dave shares how firefighters protected the utility’s headquarters from the encroaching blaze and how air drops kept the water reclamation facility safe. He also talks about the human impact, as employees saw the community burning, and the long road to recovery.
Matt Streicher is the Treasurer and Liz Heise is the Marketing Chair for the Global Water Stewardship. In this episode, Matt and Liz discuss the Global Water Stewardship, a volunteer organization that is working in Costa Rica to address sanitation and environmental challenges that stem from decentralized treatment, inadequate septic systems, and a lack of advanced treatment. They explain how volunteers help design systems to treat wastewater and train local residents to serve as operators. Matt and Liz also talk about the organization’s work to educate local people in Costa Rica about the issues, which includes paying a sewer bill. Donations to Global Water Stewardship help in these efforts.
Eleanor Allen is the CEO of Water For People. In this episode, Eleanor explains the organization’s model of water for Everyone Forever, which has to date provided service to 3.3 million people. She also discusses the nonprofit’s unique niche among global water charities, including how they bring together entrepreneurs, community members, and local governments to build and deliver water and sanitation services. Donations to Water For People help in these efforts.
Dr. Art Umble leads the Global Wastewater Practice for Stantec Consulting. In this episode, Art explains the concept of the circular economy, including its origins in the 1960s and how it has evolved over the years. He discusses the level of support for a circular economy in the water sector and in industry, businesses, and government. Art also talks about the idea of biomimicry, which involves using nature as the model for designs and systems.
Marleah LaBelle is a project manager with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In this episode, Marleah discusses the challenges with drinking water and sanitation in Alaska Native villages, which includes about 3,000 households with no service. She describes the central place of water in the Alaska Native culture, including for subsistence living, and an initiative to use art to strengthen awareness of water issues. Marleah also explains how climate change is impacting Alaska Native villages, even forcing relocation.
Ronit Erlitzki is the Director of Business Development and Innovation and Richard Cavagnaro is the Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications at AdEdge Water Technologies. In this episode, Ronit and Richard discuss how the state of science and technology make it an exciting time to work in water and how scientists and engineers are actually creative people. They talk about several hot issues including emerging contaminants such as PFOA and PFOS, the evolution of desalination, transferring technology to the market, and showcasing water careers to the next generation.
David Wachal is the Director of the Esri Global Water Practice. In this episode, David talks about the digital transformation of the water sector, including the rise of location intelligence and the creation of digital twins of water systems. He also discusses ways that utilities are using GIS data, such as to gain real-time insight into operations or to address affordability concerns. David adds his thoughts on the workforce implications of the digital era and his perspective on the rate of digitization around the globe.
Ghassan Korban is the new Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans. In this episode, Ghassan discusses the work needed to improve water infrastructure in New Orleans, which he says includes reinvesting to create a system for the next 50 to 100 years, particularly to deal with flooding. He acknowledges the unique nature of New Orleans’ infrastructure and the special spotlight on the city. Ghassan also talks about the benefits of green infrastructure, the challenge of shaping a workforce, and creating a better image for the utility.
Tom Kunetz is the new President of the Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). In this episode, Tom discusses his priorities for the next year as WEF President, which include increasing the diversity of the water workforce and expanding resource recovery by utilities. He also talks about his work at MWRD, the rebound of the Chicago River, and his involvement in comedy.
Joe Witlox is the Director of Decentralized Water and Wastewater Solutions at Newterra. In this episode, Joe explains the challenges that small communities face with wastewater treatment and how decentralized technology can be used to provide essential services. He also talks about the concept of modular design, which allows for incremental and cost-effective expansion of treatment as communities grow.
Dinesh Kumar is the India Market Manager for TrojanUV and Wayne Lem is the Municipal Market Manager for TrojanUV. In this episode, Dinesh discusses the importance of the Ganges River to the people of India and the major effort underway to reduce pollution in the river, which includes new wastewater discharge standards. Wayne explains the role of TrojanUV in raising public awareness about disinfection and the construction of treatment plants in communities along the Ganges.
Chris Mahoney is the Vice President of Capital Markets for Andritz Separation Technologies. In this episode, Chris shares his perspective on how the goals of water treatment have changed over the past several decades, including the shift from basic treatment to resource recovery. He explains the important role of equipment such as screens, thickeners, and driers in the mechanics of water treatment. Chris also discusses how Andritz’s work in the water sector benefits from its work in industries such as pulp and paper, mining and minerals, and chemicals.
Kevin Marsh is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for FlowWorks. In this episode, Kevin discusses how big data and machine learning can now be used to improve the information on stormwater impacts on collections systems. Instead of the traditional approach of conducting flow studies and waiting for results, a new tool called Infinitii I&I provides on-going, real-time access to data needed characterize a system’s wet weather response, evaluate needs, and predict performance. Kevin also talks about a new public notification system for combined sewer overflow events and how utilities can benefit from a flood risk forecasting tool.
Mike Matichich leads the financial services consulting team for Jacobs. In this episode, Mike explains how the increasing attention to affordability of water rates stems from the pinch created by necessary investments in infrastructure and rising costs for households. He says it is more important than ever for utilities to create customer assistance programs and to turn research on affordability into action. Mike also discusses how lessons can be learned at looking at state-by-state variability, approaches in public versus private water systems, and in how places like Australia, Canada, and Europe address affordability issues.