What’s Happening at the AWWA Virtual Summit?

Sept. 22, 2020

Editor’s picks for sessions to attend at the AWWA Virtual Summit Sept. 23 and 24

While the coronavirus has led to the cancellation of in-person events this year, this has not deterred the American Water Works Association from putting on a show with educational tracks and virtual booth space to fill the need for such services.

On Sept. 23 and 24, the AWWA Virtual Summit will feature a flurry of educational sessions as well as round tables and networking events for water professionals, engineers, operators, manufacturers and consultants. To prepare Water & Wastes Digest audience members for this event, the WWD Editorial Staff selected its most anticipated sessions and events and has listed them below.

Must Attend Sessions & Events by Educational Track

WWD Senior Manging Editor Bob Crossen, Water Quality Products Managing Editor Lauren Del Ciello and Storm Water Solutions Managing Editor Katie Johns all reviewed the educational track for the AWWA Virtual Summit for sessions that would be most interesting to them and their particular publication. Below are those hand-picked sessions.

Editor’s Note: All times for sessions listed below are in Mountain Time, so be sure to adjust the times to your timezone to attend live if that is your intention. Most sessions will also be available on-demand following the live presentation.

Plenary Sessions Track

Opening General Session

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 9:00-9:45

It is quite clear that the global pandemic has disrupted the world, our daily lives and the water and wastewater industry. It has presented challenges but also some silver linings. Keynote presenter Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi grew up in rough neighborhoods and spent much of his youth reading encyclopedias and watching PBS. His love of science and space inspired him despise the challenges he faced in his youth and adolescent life. But he is now a world-renounced astrophysicist and former Space Science Education Lead for NASA. His keynote address dares attendees to dream, challenges the naysayers and shoot for the moon in achievement, all while highlighting the value of water with humor, science and honest conversation.

Advances in Water Treatment Track

Emerging Treatment Technologies

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 9:45-10:30

Developing new treatment solutions and strategies is critical for addressing resiliency, energy efficiency and overall treatment effectiveness. But innovation has become a buzzword, and every product is seemingly “unique” and “best in class.” How can one distinguish the most promising developments from the marketing hype and fluff? This session hones in on tried and true technologies of conventional treatment and ion exchange for a closer look at their effectiveness and use applications.

Complying with Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule

Thursday, Sept. 24, 11:00-11:45

Within three years of promulgation, implementation deadlines will be looming. Water utilities will need to comply with the changes to the Lead and Copper Rule and this session will cover how to assure that compliance and handle the changes moving forward.

Strengthening Public Trust Track

Advancing the Ball on Communications in the Time of COVID-19

Wednesday, Sept 23, 10:45-11:45

Mandy Cawby from WaterOne, Michelle Zdrodowski from the Great Lakes Water Authority, Christina Montoya Halter from El Paso Water Utilities, and Jessica Bucciarelli from Clean Water Services discuss how water professionals can lead and communicate with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will touch on the importance of authentic leadership and transparen communication.

Transforming Utility Management Track

In the Pursuit of Progress: Perspectives from Young Professionals

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 10:45-11:30

The AWWA Young Professionals committee will meet to discuss priorities for young professionals and highlight three topics that the Young Pros are most passionate about. They will also open the floor for questions and conversation on how they are shaping the industry and what leaders should expect from the next generation of workers and eventual leaders.

What’s the Next Big Step? Bringing Diversity and Inclusion into the Boardroom

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 12-12:45 p.m.

Daniela Machado from Stantec, John McCarthy from Arcadis, and Kishia Powell from DC Water tackle the growing importance of diversity in the water and wastewater industry. According to the 2018 State of the Water Industry survey conducted by AWWA, respondents highlighted the issue as “very important.” While this is a great step forward, it is only one step on the journey, which must include everyone from the mailroom to the board room. Listen to these panelists discuss the issue of diversity, what steps we can take toward further advancement, and how to be inclusive at every level of an organization, especially in positions of leadership.

How to Adapt in the Virtual Age

Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 12:15-1:00

This year, digital and virtual technologies have accelerated to a commonplace means for communicating internally and externally in the void of in-person conversations. This session will focus on how to adapt to this virtual environment, ways to improve engagement with the public and customers, and creative strategies for education and outreach.

Financial and Asset Management Post Pandemic

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1:00-1:45

This session is a moderated conversation with experts in the water sector, ratings agencies and financial communities about asset management and finance best practices for water authorities. Panelists will touch on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the shape of the U.S. economy, how to adapt to the changing financial climate and how to recover in a post-COVID-19 world. Discussion will also highlight the growing value of private investment in the water industry.

Consumer Perceptions on Tap

Thursday, Sept. 24, 11:00-11:45

The perception of tap water has a disparity among communities. While an AWWA/Morning Consult Poll in June 2020 showed 80% of Americans served by a water utility say their tap water is good or excellent, the same cannot be said about Black and Hispanic respondents. This session dives into those survey results, asks tough questions about this trend, and how utilities can better create public trust in their systems.

A Picture of Water Affordability

Thursday, Sept. 24, 1:00-1:45

Affordability for water is a growing issue that has only become more pronounced during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This session will highlight the criticality of affordability programs to serve low and moderate income communities, and how that could potentially raise revenue. Attendees will learn the latest in strategies and policies for affordability and hear about national trends on the issue.


Water Quality: Contaminants of Concern Track

Staying Ahead of Regulatory PFAS Efforts

Wednesday, Sept 23, 1-1:45

In this session, attendees will hear a brief background on per- and polyflouroalkyl substances and the current regulations and trends on dealing with the “forever chemicals.” Panelists will highlight a critical step in staying ahead of the legislative landscape and open for questions and discussion on the issue following their presentation.

Monitoring Harmful Algal Blooms

Thursday, Sept. 24 at 12:00-12:45

Harmful algal blooms have been a trending topic of concern in the Great Lakes for many years. Monitoring systems are in place to keep them in check, and attendees to this session will learn information on monitoring cyanobacteria and how that data can help predict HABs.

Manganese: Aesthetic Concern or Health Risk?

Thursday, Sept 24, 12-12:45

Changes in water chemistry of physical disturbance can result in the release of manganese and other metals in water. This issue is important for distribution systems to understand, and this session will highlight the Health Canada Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water maximum acceptable concentration and how to transition from aesthetics to public health risks in water policy and treatment.