This episode is the audio from a Water Environment
Federation webcast. During the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater
utilities are currently triggering their response plans for continuity of
operations. These events also trigger regulatory issues under the Clean Water
Act as utilities work to maintain compliance during this pandemic. Utilities
need to consider special conditions in their Consent Decrees and/or permits,
consider regulatory obligations and maintain close contact with their
regulators. Speakers include Susan Sullivan, Executive Director of the New
England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission; Fred Andes, Partner at
Barnes & Thornburg in Chicago; Melanie Davenport, President of the
Association of Clean Water Administrators and Director of the Water Permitting
Division for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; and Shellie
Chard, Director of Water Quality for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental
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
John Fletcher is Atlantic Regional Manager at Duke’s Root Control and Kraig Moodie is President of FloWav. In this episode John and Kraig discuss the YH2O Mentoring Program that prepares young adults ages 18 to 24 to be employed in full-time jobs in the water industry and is run by the Baltimore Department of Public Works in partnership with the Chesapeake Water Environment Association. They explain that 97 percent of graduates have found employment in the public or private sectors in a variety of positions both in the field and in an office. John and Kraig talk about the program’s ability to transform lives, with many graduates having a checking account, apartment, or car for the first time.
Leslie Schehl is a Supervising Engineer at the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and John Phillips is Director of Integrated Watershed Management at Parametrix, as well as co-chairs of the 2020 National Stormwater Symposium. In this episode Leslie and John explain how climate change is altering rainfall patterns and posing challenges for stormwater management, particularly in the form of urban flooding. They talk about the adoption of digital technology across the sector and the rise of smart sewers. Leslie and John also discuss the ongoing issues of maintenance and funding of stormwater infrastructure.
Chris Hartman is a Stormwater Technical Specialist with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. In this episode Chris discusses the important role of green infrastructure in Project Clean Lake, the utility’s program to reduce pollution to Lake Erie. He explains that NEORSD decided to utilize the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program for training on the design, installation, and maintenance. Chris says the use of NGICP has led to several people gaining jobs to maintain green infrastructure in the greater Cleveland community.
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.
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.
Susan Moisio is Global Solutions Director for Conveyance and Storage for Jacobs. In this episode Susan discusses how sanitary sewers, particularly in coastal areas, are impacted by infiltration from increased rainfall, sea level rise, and higher groundwater tables from climate change. She explains how the impacts are assessed by reviewing the historical record, analyzing the current sewer system, and consulting with climate scientists. Susan says sanitary sewers can be rehabbed to increase resilience to climate change but a lack of financial resources for such projects is the greatest challenge.
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
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.
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.
Jon Schladweiler is the historian for the AZ Water Association and curator of The Sewer History Exhibit. In this episode Jon talks about the history of sewers, including the origins of sewers 5,500 years ago in what is now Pakistan, the introduction of clay pipes in Babylon, the Roman Empire’s improvements, and that the Dark Ages led to its rebirth. He explains how combined sewer systems and separate sewer systems developed in the United States, and how demand and funding for the infrastructure played a role. Jon says sewers are one of civilization’s most significant achievements for human health and that the perfect sewer has not yet been built.
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.
Marcus Quigley is a senior advisor for
Opti. In this episode, Marcus discusses how stormwater is an important area for
both water quality and water quantity, and how the challenge is amplified by aging
infrastructure and continued development. He explains that local elected
officials are motivated by the many community benefits of managing stormwater.
Marcus also talks about the role of technology such as cloud computing and
wireless communications in improving stormwater management and adapting to
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.
Gary Belan is the Senior Director of the Clean Water Supply Program at American Rivers and Janet Clements is the Senior Water Resource Economist at Corona Environmental Consulting. In this episode, Gary and Janet discuss Stormwater Currency, a collaboration with the Water Environment Federation to develop private financing options for green infrastructure. They explain how, with support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the organizations will work with utilities in Grand Rapids, Michigan to develop a stormwater credit trading program and in Cleveland, Ohio to optimize a green infrastructure grant program. Gary and Janet say the goal is also to enable the strategies to be scaled throughout the Great Lakes region and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Darryl Haddock is the Education Director for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and the Federal Urban Waters Ambassador for Proctor Creek. In this episode, Darryl explains how a community struggling with environmental justice issues came together to advocate for more desirable wastewater and stormwater solutions. He also talks about the many benefits of reinvesting in urban waterways and the neighborhoods around them, as well as how residents in these areas can provide meaningful input into projects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tony Parrott is the Executive Director of the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District. In this episode, Tony discusses how operations and capital programs of U.S. water utilities generate $550 billion in economic activity in communities and the need for Congress to act on infrastructure funding and workforce packages that support that activity. He also highlights efforts in Louisville to include more small and minority owned businesses in contracts, promote job opportunities for local projects, and address affordability of water bills.
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.
Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain and caused catastrophic flooding in Houston, resulting in $125 billion in damage. In this episode, employees of Houston Water in the areas of operations, maintenance, and electrical share their insider stories, including how they prepared for the hurricane, what happened during the storm, and how the recovery went.
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.
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.
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.
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.