Predicting 30 years into the future requires big, bold thinkers with strong voices, gathering with like-minded peers who might have opportunities to put those bold thoughts into action. At WEFTEC 2021, the Waterside Chat featured a group of water experts discussing the Future of Water in 2051. They discussed similarities, differences, sustainability, and change impediments for water in 30 years. Panelists also explored societal and technological influences on water. The panelists are:
– Albert Cho, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy & Digital Officer for Xylem – Amy Corriveau, Vice President and Director of Digital Solutions for CDM Smith – Zhen (Jason) He, Professor of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the Director of Center for Water Innovation at Washington State University in St. Louis.
Mark Poling is a past member of the WEF Board of Trustees and current member of its House of Delegates. In this episode Mark discusses a variety of WEF programs including WISE (Water Intrapreneurs for Successful Enterprises) and the Intelligent Water Systems Challenge.
Rajan Ray is Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Trinnex and Eoin Howlett is Vice President of Product Development at Trinnex. In this episode, Rajan and Eoin talk about where the water sector stands on the path of digital transformation, including adaptation by different size utilities, the latest with sensors and data, and the role of digital twins. They also discuss the launch of Trinnex and the benefits of its affiliation with CDM Smith.
Andres Quijano is a Solution Design Engineer for North America for Envirosuite. In this episode Andres discusses the rise of environmental intelligence and how it being driven by the evolution of technology, impacts of climate change, and growth of urban areas. He explains how the water sector can utilize environmental intelligence solutions to improve operations, benefit business, and deliver sustainability.
Rick Warner is a Past-President of the Water Environment Federation and President of Warner and Associates LLC. In this episode Rick discusses how during his tenure in WEF leadership he emphasized the concept of partnering for impact, which included the documentary film Brave Blue World as an outcome. He talks about the many synergies that result from collaboration, such as the Nevada Water Innovation Institute at his alma mater the University of Nevada, Reno. Rick explains that he advises students to choose employers with a culture that aligns with their values and ideals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Manon Fisher is a resource recovery specialist with the San Francisco Public Utility Commission. In this episode, Manon discusses the role of biosolids in addressing climate change — including through carbon sequestration – and in building environmental literacy in a community. She also talks about the path ahead for SFPUC to transition to the highest class of biosolids.
John Willis is Vice President of Wastewater Solutions at Brown and Caldwell. In this episode, John discusses the generation of biogas by the water sector and the opportunity to increase production, particularly for vehicle fuel. He also talks about the value of biosolids and importance of regular dialogue with the media and public. John additionally explains the enormous potential of anaerobic primary treatment to drive water utilities to net zero, an innovative process inspired by work by the Gates Foundation in the developing world.
Britt Sheinbaum is a water conflict specialist and Head of the East Coast Technology Approval Group for Isle Utilities. In this episode, 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. She also talks about adaptability, shared goals, and tools as the keys in conflict resolution.
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.
Al Cho is the Vice President of Advanced Infrastructure Analytics at Xylem, Inc. In this episode, Al discusses the use of smart technologies in monitoring, assessing, and decision-making for water infrastructure. He also explains the new Intelligent Water Systems Challenge and offers his thoughts on remote sensing, automation, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
Ned Beecher is the Executive Director of the North East Biosolids & Residuals Association. In this episode, Ned discusses the many benefits of biosolids, including diverting waste from landfills, improving agricultural production, restoring land damaged by mining and fires, and remediating Superfund sites. He also talks about safety issues around emerging contaminants and the role of biosolids in addressing climate change.
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.
The National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP) is a new jobs program that provides training and certification in the field of green infrastructure. NGICP establishes national requirements for working on green infrastructure projects, promotes a skilled green workforce, streamlines the process of connecting qualified talent to in-demand jobs, and supports community-based job creation in U.S. cities. This episode features conversations with several people involved with NGICP including program director Adriana Calderelli.
Ingrid Bella is chair of BAYWORK, a consortium of San Francisco Bay Area water utilities working together to ensure a reliable workforce. In this episode, 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.
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.
Joe Kane is a senior research associate and associate fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. In this episode, Joe discusses the key findings of his research on national and local water use patterns in the U.S., how stormwater utilities offer resilient options for communities, and expanded opportunity through infrastructure jobs. He also talks about his ongoing research on the water workforce and offers his perspective on the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
Karen Pallansch is the CEO of Alexandria Renew Enterprises in Virginia. In this episode, Karen talks about the Utility of the Future concept and how wastewater treatment plants are transforming into water resource recovery facilities. She also discusses how AlexRenew embodies a Utility of the Future, particularly through its community engagement, watershed stewardship, and recovery of resources such as water, energy, and nutrients. AlexRenew is one of about 80 utilities that have earned recognition as a Utility of the Future Today.
Alan Heymann is the President of Blue Drop and the Chief Marketing Officer for DC Water. In this episode, Alan shares the origin story of the unique nonprofit affiliate of a water utility, which includes a mission to provide ratepayer relief by selling its biosolids-based soil amendment Bloom and providing consulting services to other utilities. He also discusses the benefits and challenges of being attached to a public water utility, as well as how Blue Drop may evolve in size and scope in the future.
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.
Paul O’Callaghan is the founder of BlueTech Research and the CEO of O2 Environmental. In this episode, Paul shares his unique insights on water technology, including what makes something innovative, how water technology is connected to trends in the larger economy, the rate of change in the water sector, and how water fares compared to traditional success/failure rates in venture capital.
Jennifer Walsh is a senior principal engineer with Hazen and Sawyer. In this episode, Jennifer explains why young people should consider a career in the water sector, how involvement in organizations like the Water Environment Federaton provides vital professional development, the strengths of millennials that employers should utilize, and her experience working on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the UNLEASH program.
Michael Murphy is the Director of Water Innovation at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. In this episode, Michael talks about the water-energy nexus, the need to innovate the public’s relationship with water, the challenge of getting new technology widely adopted, and the idea of a systems benefit charge on water bills to fund innovation.
Fredi Lajvardi is a nationally recognized STEM educator and subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Underwater Dreams and major motion picture Spare Parts, as well as the IMAX film Dream Big. In this episode, Fredi tells how he led his team of disadvantaged teenagers in an underwater robotics competition, where they defeated leading schools, including top-ranked MIT. He talks about building students’ interest in STEM careers and the changes needed in the education system.
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.
Ken Kopocis spent nearly three decades in Congress in senior staff positions for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, served several years as head of EPA’s Office of Water, and taught water law at American University. In this episode, Ken provides perspective on the 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, including the law’s origins, history, strengths and weaknesses, and future.
Sue Murphy is the CEO of the Water Corporation in Western Australia. In this episode, Sue talks about managing a utility that serves 2.5 million people spread across 2.5 million square kilometers, the increase of water scarcity from climate change in Western Australia, and her journey in engineering and the water sector.
Mark Jockers is the Government and Public Affairs Manager for Clean Water Services in Hillsboro, Oregon. Over some cold cans of Pure Water Brew, Mark discusses how beer brewed with highly purified water from wastewater treatment plants is raising public awareness about the potential for water reuse, the flurry of utilities and brewers collaborating over the past few years, and the recent launch of the Pure Water Brewing Alliance.
Radhika Fox is the CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance and Director of the Value of Water Campaign. In this episode, Radhika discusses what is meant by the phrase “value of water,” a report on the economic benefits of investing in water infrastructure, and the results of public opinion polls on water infrastructure.
Matt Ries is the Chief Technical Officer at the Water Environment Federation, but will soon join DC Water as its first Chief of Water Quality and Watershed Management. In this episode, Matt discusses the meaning of the term sustainability, how big data is changing the water sector, the shift to resource recovery by water treatment plants, and how the position at WEF was so unique and impactful.
Jenny Hartfelder is the new President of the Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation and is a Vice President/National Campaign Manager for Stantec. In this episode, Jenny talks about the importance of mentorship, the need to build a more diverse workforce, the increase of women in engineering, and her priorities for WEF over the next year.
Imagine A Day Without Water is a day of public awareness and education about the vital role of water and of the water infrastructure that moves and treats it. In this episode, host Travis Loop interviews people from his community about their connections to water and infrastructure. Visits include a utility, environmental group, surf shop, school, and brewery. His six-year-old son Jack even provides some perspective. Learn more at imagineadaywithoutwater.org
Philippe Cousteau is co-founder and president of EarthEcho International, and a television host, producer, author, philanthropist, and social entrepreneur. Philippe is the grandson of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. In this episode, he discusses the importance of youth education, the impacts of water infrastructure around the world, and the pressures of climate change on water resources.
Rudy Chow is the Director of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. In this episode, Rudy talks about the workforce challenges of the water sector, how Baltimore is working to build interest in water careers and develop employees, and the role water can play in economic growth.
George Hawkins is the CEO and General Manager of DC Water, as well as a high-profile, articulate leader in the water sector. In this episode, George talks about why Blue Plains is considered the world’s largest advanced wastewater treatment plant, the importance of communicating to the public, and his decision to step down at the end of the year. He also chats about his breakdancing talents, which he showed off at a DC Water holiday party.
Kevin Shafer is the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the chair of both the U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water Council and the Water Environment Research Federation. In this episode, Kevin discusses the one water concept, Milwaukee’s focus on green infrastructure and research, and brewing beer…with purified wastewater.
Eileen O’Neill is the Executive Director of the Water Environment Federation. In this episode of Words On Water, O’Neill discusses her background in the water sector, what it is like to lead an organization with 34,000 water professionals as members, and the opportunities and challenges she sees facing water in the 21st century.