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/
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paul Bowen is Water and Wastewater Technology Manager for the Coca-Cola North American Supply Chain and former President of the Board of Trustees of the Water Environment Federation. In this episode, Paul explains the increased focus on water sustainability at Coca-Cola over the past 15 years, which was spurred by an examination of water risk in the 200 countries it operates. He talks about the importance of relationships with water utilities, the wastewater requirements for bottlers, and the opportunity to reuse treated water for non-potable operations. Paul also reflects on the value of volunteering with WEF and his tenure on the Board.
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.
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.
Tim Thomure is the Director of Tucson Water in Arizona. In this episode, Tim discusses how a heavy focus on reclaiming and reusing water in the desert has enabled Tucson and Pima County to transition off groundwater and recharge the aquifer. He also talks about the work to develop a regulatory framework for direct potable reuse in Arizona so communities will have the option if necessary. Additionally, Tim explains the growth of green infrastructure in Tucson as a way to capture precious rainfall and reduce the heat island effect.
Mike McGill is the President of WaterPIO. In this episode, Mike discusses the presence of the chemical GenX in the Cape Fear River and drinking water of Wilmington, N.C. He also talks about how utilities should approach crisis communications, particularly for emerging contaminants like PFOA, PFAS, and GenX. Mike explains the importance of regular, proactive communications from utilities to customers and the media, and how that approach provides benefits in emergency situations.
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.
Jeff Prevatt is the Deputy Director of Treatment, Research, and Innovation for Water Reclamation in Pima County, Arizona. In this episode, Jeff shares his perspective on the future of direct potable reuse of water, explains how the AZ Pure Water Brew Challenge used beer to raise public awareness, and talks about the innovative research underway at the new WEST Center, a facility opened in partnership with the University of Arizona and Dow.
Kathryn Sorenson is the Director of Phoenix Water Services. In this episode, Kathryn discusses how the utility collects, distributes, and treats water in the desert home of the fifth-most populated city in the United States. She also talks about how Phoenix has decreased water consumption and replenished vital groundwater, the continuation of ancient Native American practices for moving water via canals, the oasis known as the Tres Rios wetlands, and a new biogas project that means all resources are recovered at the city’s largest treatment plant.
Dr. Bruce Rittmann is the director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He was named the 2018 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for revolutionizing water and wastewater treatment. In this episode, Bruce discusses how his first job at a wastewater plant shaped his career, the cutting-edge use of microbial communities to convert pollutants into resources, and how mathematical modeling can improve the treatment process.
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.
Abigail Gardner is the communications adviser for the Value of Water Campaign and U.S. Water Alliance. In this episode, Abigail talks about the results of a new 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. She also discusses how results have changed over time, findings on drinking water behavior, and the public’s priorities for wastewater utilities.