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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kishia Powell is the Commissioner of the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. In this episode, Kishia talks about the utility’s new $1 billion, five-year capital improvement plan. She 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. Kishia also explains the importance of community involvement in the planning process and how the utility is focused on equity across neighborhoods.