The American Water Works Association (AWWA) held its Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE14) June 8-11 in Boston. Attendance was consistent with recent years as the conference once again showcased some of the most innovative technology in the water utility industry to the more than 11,000 attendees.
Before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 3,000 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on June 9, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani kicked off the Opening General Session with a keynote address that stressed the importance of tackling North America’s impending water infrastructure crisis.
Continuing the trend from recent years, the hot topic on the exhibition floor was efficiency, particularly on the side of operational efficiency at utilities, as well as maintenance, billing and work order efficiency. Water meters and products and services related to water loss management were also a focus for exhibitors.
Companies and service providers stressed the importance of new technology and how utilities can use it to make the best decisions possible in terms of managing resources and spending for infrastructure projects in a climate where budgets are stretched thin. The technology, in particular, is one facet of the water utility industry that has seen considerable growth in recent years. Companies developing software dashboards for utilities to manage data are continuously looking for new ways to implement new features of data management, such as GIS, AMR/AMI, SCADA and hydraulic modeling tools into various platforms to increase efficiency.
In a spirited event at the conclusion of ACE14, John Donahue, CEO of North Park (Ill.) Water District, accepted the ceremonial AWWA gavel and began his term as president. The Gavel Passing Ceremony was the culmination of the five-day conference that drew water professionals and water technology providers to Boston.
“We will utilize the combined strength of the Association and Sections to form one AWWA,” Donahue said. “We will work together to combine our brands and align our strategic plans, which will allow us to look like one AWWA. We will work together to provide educational opportunities to our members, especially rural and small systems with the Association preparing the content and the Sections delivering it.”
Donahue follows AECOM senior consultant Jim Chaffee of Wisconsin as AWWA’s top volunteer leader. Before handing over the gavel, Chaffee announced to the audience that President Obama had signed legislation creating a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA), a concept developed and promoted by AWWA. WIFIA represents an important step forward in answering the single greatest challenge facing the water profession, repairing and replacing aging water infrastructure.