Chris Wilson is the Chief of Process Engineering and Research at Hampton Roads Sanitation District. In this episode Chris discusses how his utility is like many others in trying to understand how to treat certain contaminants like PFAS, develop effective tools for doing so, and determine which ones to apply for what end purpose. He says the session he is moderating at WEFTEC Connect on Tuesday, October 6 at 3:30 p.m. will seek to augment technical and policy information on PFAS with a look at where those areas intersect and what that means for water utilities. Chris is known for taking a creative approach to sessions and hopes that makes the content more memorable for attendees.
Art Umble is Senior Vice President of Global Wastewater Treatment Sector Leader at Stantec and Chair of the Water Environment Federation’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Biological Hazards and Precautions for Wastewater Workers. In this episode Art discusses the panel’s conclusions that occupational risk of infection is low, standard wastewater treatment processes inactivate the virus, and additional research should be conducted to further increase understanding of hazards and protections for personnel. He also explains that the panel updated the guidelines for protection of wastewater personnel from potential pathways of exposure to biological hazards, including coronavirus. The panel’s report is available on Access Water.
Kari Brisolara is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Louisiana State University. In this episode Kari discusses a review of current science that finds there is no evidence supporting the transmission of coronavirus through the wastewater system to biosolids. Because the coronavirus is more susceptible to treatment, including heat, no additional protective equipment or measures are required for managing properly treated biosolids.
This podcast introduces wastewater epidemiology and explains what information related to the detection of RNA of COVID-19 virus in wastewater does and does not tell us. Wastewater epidemiology has been used for decades to track the presence of infectious diseases such as polio in communities. It has also been used to aid in the response to the opioid epidemic. Now it has gained a role in guiding state and local public health responses to COVID-19 outbreaks. This episode is the audio from a webcast moderated by Dr. Kyle Bibby (University of Notre Dame) with several speakers including Dr. Mariana Matus (Biobot), Dr. Amy Kirby (CDC), and Dr. Jennifer Murphy (CDC).
Dr. Linda Lee is a Professor in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. In this episode Linda discusses the science of PFAS in water treatment, her recent article published in the Water Environment Research Journal, and how her work began 15 years ago when DuPont asked her to help expand knowledge of the so-called “forever chemicals.” She talks about current science on the presence and removal methods of PFAS in drinking water, wastewater, and biosolids. Linda also explains what is known about the fate and transport of PFAS into the soil, groundwater, and crops when biosolids are applied to agricultural land.
Sonja Michaluk is a high school student and the winner of the 2019 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the nation’s most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. In this episode Sonja discusses how she explored the use of DNA barcoding to measure the health of waterways with larval Chironomidae, the most widespread macroinvertebrate family. She talks about her interest in the intersection of science and public policy and making data the language of debate. Sonja tells how her research caused a town board to change the planned path of a roadway to avoid a healthy creek.
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.
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.
Angeliki Rigos is the Executive Director of the Tata Center for Technology and Design at MIT. In this episode Angeliki explains the Tata Center’s focus on advancing disruptive technologies and the example of a start-up that collects water from the cooling towers of power plants. She says more scientists should be active advocates for sustainability and that she encourages women scientists to become leaders in society. Angeliki also discusses how water issues aren’t separate from other sustainability challenges and how water scientists should work across boundaries with other disciplines.
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.
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.
Sidney Innerebner is the Owner of Indigo Water Group and Author of Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals. In this episode, Sidney discusses how the new Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals provide a one-stop shop for operators to gain the information needed to do their jobs. She talks about how the book features an array of pictures, graphics, terminology, and practice questions for certification exams. Sidney also explains how the book represents the highest standard of what is known about wastewater treatment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Melissa Pomales is based in Puerto Rico as a Water Program Management Leader for Arcadis. In this episode, Melissa tells her personal and professional stories of the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria on her home island. She talks about the estimated $700 million in damage to water infrastructure, the opportunity – and necessity – for Puerto Rico to rebuild in a resilient manner, and how climate change is fueling sea level rise, coastal erosion, and stronger storms.
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.
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.
Carla Reid is the General Manager and CEO of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which serves 1.8 million people. In this episode, Carla discusses her journey “from CE to CEO.” She also talks about what leadership means to her, the rise of women in the water workforce, the importance of mentorship, and introducing young people to water careers.
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.
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.