Moriah Brown, Nadine Robertson, and Kayson Smith-Bejgrowicz are participants in the Water Environment Federation’s InFLOW program, which stands for Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water and identifies promising students from underrepresented minority groups who are interested in professional careers in the water industry and provides them scholarships to attend WEFTEC. In this episode they discuss how little they knew about water careers before InFLOW and how it was encouraging to interact with water leaders that reflected diversity. They also explain how InFLOW changed their perceptions of the water sector and led them toward water careers, with Nadine now working as an operator in New Orleans and Kayson as an engineer in Honolulu.
This episode is part of a series of conversations on the Words On Water podcast about equity and the water sector. It is co-hosted by Travis Loop and Rahkia Nance.
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.
Jackie Jarrell is the President of the Water Environment Federation and Interim Deputy Director at Charlotte Water, Nikita Lingenfelter is Speaker-Elect of the WEF House of Delegates and an Engineer with the State of Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, and Stephen Sanders is Director and Head Trainer at The Environmental Training Center at Morrisville State College. In this episode, they discuss how WEF has responded to the calls for equity for Black Americans and the work of WEF’s Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Nikita and Stephen talk about their experiences as Black Americans working in the water sector and how WEF can improve diversity and equity for its members and volunteers. They also share personal perspectives on racism in America.
This episode is part of a series of conversations on equity and the water sector. It is co-hosted by Travis Loop and Rahkia Nance.
Dr. Andrew Sanderson is the Chief Medical Officer for the Water Environment Federation, a Gastroenterologist with Weatherby Healthcare, and an Associate Professor at Howard University. In this episode Dr. Sanderson describes his academic and professional background, including serving as a medical officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a fellow at Harvard Medical School. He explains his interest in serving as WEF’s Chief Medical Officer and how he will focus on the health and safety of the water workforce. Dr. Sanderson also talks about having assistance from a graduate student at Howard University.
Caitlin Feehin is the RiverRenew Program Manager and Allison Deines is a Senior Policy Analyst at Alexandria Renew Enterprises. In this episode Caitlin and Allison explain that the utility needed to continue construction during the coronavirus pandemic to meet a legal deadline for combine sewer system remediation. They discuss how AlexRenew used information from health authorities and other utilities to develop protocols to protect the health of employees and construction workers while allowing the project to continue. Caitlin and Allison also talk about the importance of messaging to the community during coronavirus, including explaining why and how construction is moving ahead.
WEF is convening a series of roundtable discussions with leaders from across the water sector to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting operations, business, and people. The conversations are hosted by WEF Executive Director Walt Marlowe and explore current impacts, anticipated changes, and future plans in areas such as workforce, productivity, supply chain, projects, communication, and more. The guests for this episode are Kishia Powell, Commissioner for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management; Paul Vogel, Principal and President of Greeley and Hansen; and Neil McAdam, Senior Vice President at World Water Works.
Ed Holmes is the Director of Technical Training for DN Tanks. In this episode Ed discusses bringing students and young professionals into a company in a way that provides them with well-rounded development and integration into day-to-day activities. He shares his perspective on the strengths, interests, and motivations of today’s young professionals, and how they benefit a business. Ed also talks about the importance of lifelong learning in the water sector.
Ted Corrigan is interim CEO and General Manager and Kyle Danley is Director of Water Production at Des Moines Water Works. In this episode Ted and Kyle explain how the utility responded to coronavirus by activating a long-standing response plan and having essential staff shelter-in-place at its three treatment facilities. They discuss how 20 employees will stay onsite for two week rotations, working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to provide clean water and sanitation for 500,000 people in central Iowa. Ted and Kyle say the staff understand they are serving in a public health role and helping their community, and that support is strong from external staff, the utility’s board, and the union.
During the coronavirus pandemic, water utilities are triggering their response plans for continuity of operations. A significant component during a pandemic is a consideration of critical functions that include essential personnel whose role does not allow for telework. Critical services must continue and COOP activities in the face of potentially severe staff shortages and absenteeism are of concern. This episode is the audio from a Water Environment Federation webcast. Speakers include Sue Schneider of Spartanburg Water, Joseph Lockler of Charlotte Water, John Bennett and Taylor Huynh of Trinity River Authority, Dusti Lowndes of DC Water, Cathy Davis of U.S. EPA, Teresa Jakubowski of Barnes & Thornburg, and Steve Frank of SDF Communications.
Celine Hyer is the Water Conveyance Lead for Arcadis North America and Eric Bindler is the Research Director for Digital Water at Bluefield Research. In this episode Celine and Eric discuss how pressures mounting on utilities to address human-centric challenges around affordability and resilience mean new strategies are needed to optimize limited resources. They explain the ways an advanced asset management framework can surpass traditional limitations and narrow U.S. utilities’ funding gap by $62.4 billion over the next decade. Celine and Eric detail drivers and enablers of change, workforce impacts, and steps utilities can take to be fit-for-future and foster thriving communities. Read the paper on advanced asset management.
Dr. Rasha Maal-Bared is Senior Microbiologist at EPCOR and Scott Schaefer is Wastewater Practice Leader at AE2S and Chair of WEF’s Disinfection & Public Health Committee. In this episode Rasha and Scott discuss the coronavirus, its origin, and the agencies involved in response. They explain why the water sector should pay attention to coronavirus, how treatment addresses the virus, and that water workers should follow standard safety protocol. Rasha and Scott say the water sector should stay informed of developments but remain calm.
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.
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.
Ifetayo Venner is Water Sustainability Leader and Wastewater Service Line Leader at Arcadis and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation. In this episode Ifetayo explains how growing up in the Caribbean led her to work in water and how her varied educational experiences and degrees shaped her career. She talks about the reasons the water sector needs to increase its diversity, not just in gender and race, but also in skill sets, education, perspectives, and life background. Ifetayo discusses how students and young professionals should seek out a variety of experiences to discover the direction that is best for them.
Valerie Lucas is the Executive Director of the Clean Water
Professionals of Kentucky & Tennessee. In this episode Valerie explains why
the organization changed its name to better communicate with the public about the
water sector’s work. She talks about collaborating with the Louisville water utilities
and four breweries to create their version of Pure Water Brew called Next
Round. Valerie also discusses how she has seen the role of women in water
change during her career and why it is important to increase the number of
women in the industry.
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
At AdEdge, Richard Cavagnaro is CEO, Jose Villena is COO, and Carolyn Spencer is Human Resources Manager. In this episode they talk about the importance of workplace culture to employee happiness and productivity, as well as the external reputation of the company. Richard, Jose, and Carolyn discuss the concept of living happy at work and how cultivating that culture starts at the top, takes effort to maintain, and involves showing new staff it is a priority.
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.
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
Jim Cooper is Intelligent Water Lead at Arcadis. In this episode Jim discusses a new report done in collaboration with Bluefield Research on how artificial intelligence and predictive analytics can help address two human-centric challenges facing the water sector: affordability and resilience. He explains the concept of collective intelligence, which is “people plus technology,” and how a digital future can empower employees, not replace them. Jim says the sector is at a tipping point where early adopters of intelligent water are reaping multifaceted benefits.
is the General Manager of the Moulton Niguel Water District. In this episode
Joone discusses the need for water utilities to think about the kind of
business they will be in five to 10 years and the type of talent that should be
cultivated for that workforce. She says her utility has hired data scientists
and coders and worked with Netflix and Microsoft because better information
leads to better decisions. Joone explains that she spends more time on hiring than
many of her counterparts and selects people based on potential and attitude
rather than tenure, which creates an energetic and engaged workplace.
Adam Tank is the Director of Digital Transformation at
Organica Water. In this episode Adam says to build public support and attract
the next generation of the workforce the water sector needs to be more creative
and much bolder in communications, including telling stories about its work and
using appealing job titles. He also discusses his view that the water sector is
behind other industries in digital transformation and that utilities should pay
closer attention to why and how they go digital.
Mel Butcher is an engineering consultant at Arcadis, facilitates a career support group for women in male-dominated fields called CollabSuite, and is launching a podcast for Empowering Women in Industry. In this episode, Mel discusses what the low number of women in the water workforce means for those individuals and the whole sector. She talks about challenges women continue to face, from overt sexism to unconscious bias, and how both male and female colleagues can be allies in addressing these obstacles. Mel also says that there are many opportunities for women to have an impact on solving water challenges and the sector should have more honest conversations about diversity and inclusion to better reflect the communities they serve.
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.
Haley Falconer is Environmental Division Senior Manager for
the City of Boise. In this episode, 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. She talks about the
choice by Boise to use the term “water renewal facilities” and familiarizing
the public with the phrase. Haley reflects on Boise’s recent experience producing
several beers and ciders with purified wastewater. She also explains why she
has been a very active volunteer for the Water Environment Federation.
InFLOW is a new program from the Water Environment Federation that stands for Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water. In this episode, WEF staff Morgan Brown and Rahkia Nance explain that InFLOW identifies promising students from underrepresented minority groups who are interested in professional careers in the water industry and provides them scholarships to attend WEFTEC. In its first year, 16 students from Howard University, Tuskegee University, and the University of South Florida participated in the program. Three of those students – Maya Carrasquillo, Sigmund Skinner, and Faith Oviawe – discuss their experiences with InFLOW and perspectives on water careers.
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.
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.
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.
Tom Kunetz is the new President of the Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). In this episode, Tom discusses his priorities for the next year as WEF President, which include increasing the diversity of the water workforce and expanding resource recovery by utilities. He also talks about his work at MWRD, the rebound of the Chicago River, and his involvement in comedy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dustin Price is Maintenance Manager at the Portland Water District and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Brandi Madden is a Service Technician at WhiteWater Inc. and a Water Purification Specialist with the Massachusetts National Guard. In this episode, Dustin and Brandi discuss the value that military veterans bring to any workforce and water sector jobs in particular, and share their stories of moving from the military to water jobs. Dustin also talks about Water Warriors, a new effort underway in New England to help veterans transition into water careers.