Kelley Dearing Smith is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at Louisville Water. In this episode Kelley talks about building a communications team, utilizing storytelling, the importance of public education, and managing a variety of branding activities including for the trademarked Louisville Pure Tap. She also takes questions from the audience about social media, risk communications, and beer made with recycled water.
Randy Hayman is Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water. In this episode, Randy talks with the Water Environment Federation about why proactive communications must be a priority for water utilities, particularly from his perspective in an executive leadership position. He discusses what effective communication looks like, topics that require expanded public outreach, and the importance of using different tools for connecting with an audience. Randy also explains the need for leadership support of communications activities, including through funding.
Shea Dunifon is the Education Coordinator for Pinellas County in Florida. In this episode, Shea says that municipalities can shift the paradigm in how they think about engaging the public, especially younger generations. She explains creating teaching materials to accommodate multiple grade levels as well as schools with varying levels of resources because accessibility is an important pillar in her values. Shea talks about creating more informed citizens and filling the water industry’s talent pipeline of the future.
Sam Villegas is Director of Strategic Communications Services at Raftelis. In this episode Sam discusses WEF’s comprehensive toolkit for communicating about biosolids in ways that are factual, science-based, and easily understandable by those who might be hearing about biosolids for the first time. She explains that the toolkit includes guidance on some of the more challenging communication tasks you may encounter—responding to, or proactively pursuing media coverage, handling concerns raised about the safety of biosolids, creating presentations for use at events or meetings with the public, and developing content to post online or on social media. Sam also talks about how the toolkit features messages that serve as an overall umbrella that can be adapted for FAQs, talking points, community meetings, fact sheets, brochures, social media, and websites. Find the toolkit at https://www.wef.org/biosolids/
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.