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.