Mike Martin is Technical Services Director at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Chair of WEF’s Utility Management Committee and Zonetta English is Strategic Initiatives and Project Delivery Director at the Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District and Vice-Chair of WEF’s Utility Management. In this episode Mike and Zonetta discuss some of the current issues and trends in utility management, including data management, workforce development, diversity, affordability, and PFAS. They also share how they are tackling these areas at their utilities in Milwaukee and Louisville. These topics are part of the programming at WEF’s Utility Management Conference on February 21-24.
Matt Bond is Past-President of the Water Environment Federation and Deputy Director for Engineering at KC Water. In this episode Matt discusses the challenges and opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic, including keeping capital improvement projects on track, navigating the financial crunch to utility revenue and affordability for ratepayers, and finding that there is now an availability of talented workers to hire. He also talks about the emphasis on green infrastructure in making Kansas City a more sustainable and livable city.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference, is the largest annual water quality event in the world. This year it will be held September 29 to October 3 in New Orleans. In this episode, WEF staff provide a preview of WEFTEC, including highlights of the conference program, the new additions to the exhibit floor, what to expect at the opening session, and how to use the app to navigate the event.
Manny Teodoro is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M University. In this episode, Manny discusses the issue of affordability of water, including how water can be simultaneously underpriced and unaffordable. He talks about why the water sector must address the affordability issue now. Manny also explains why the median household income isn’t an accurate measure for determining affordability and offers more effective ways to calculate costs for working class households.
Cathy Bailey is the Executive Director of Greater Cincinnati Water Works. In this episode, Cathy discusses her rise from a chemist working nights to the first woman and African-American to lead the utility in its 200-year history. She also talks about the fight against lead in drinking water – Cincinnati’s program has received national attention and is based on extensive education and a proactive effort to remove lead service lines. Cathy stresses how it is the right thing to do for the community and to start kids off on the right path.
Lebron James is a free agent and choosing where to play basketball next season. What if he factored the city’s water utilities and water bodies into the decision? In this episode, we discuss a few of the attributes and programs of the five cities that sports experts predict as the most likely destinations for Lebron – Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, and Boston. Disclaimer: Lebron is unfortunately not a guest on this episode.
Adam Krantz is the CEO of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. In this episode, Adam talks about the complementary roles of the various water associations, including NACWA. He also assesses the current political will by elected officials to act on water issues and discusses paying for clean water, advancing smarter regulations, promoting innovation, and modernizing the Clean Water Act.
Robert Puente is the President and CEO of the San Antonio Water System. In this episode, Robert explains how San Antonio gained its reputation for water efficiency and conservation, including how they keep the famous River Walk flowing and why they have an 11-foot model of a low-flow toilet. He also discusses the competition for water resources in Texas, which has led the city to keep a close eye on aquifers and build a desalination plant.
John Albert is the Chief Research Officer for The Water Research Foundation. In this episode, John discusses the recent merger of two nonprofit research organizations that created The Water Research Foundation. He also talks about new focus areas of water research, including the workforce of the future, affordability of rates, emerging contaminants, and transformative technology like robotics, drones, and virtual reality.
Tony Parrott is the Executive Director of the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District. In this episode, Tony discusses how operations and capital programs of U.S. water utilities generate $550 billion in economic activity in communities and the need for Congress to act on infrastructure funding and workforce packages that support that activity. He also highlights efforts in Louisville to include more small and minority owned businesses in contracts, promote job opportunities for local projects, and address affordability of water bills.
Andrew Sawyers is the Director of the Office of Wastewater Management at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this episode, Andrew discusses infrastructure finance, including the status of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, implementation of WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act), EPA’s technical assistance programs, and the agency’s perspective on public-private partnerships.
Mustafa Santiago Ali is the Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice, and Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus. In this episode, Mustafa discusses the meaning of environmental justice and how it relates to water, the essential role of public engagement in addressing environmental justice problems, the issue of water rates and affordability, and the central role of water in community revitalization.