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NAWC’s executive director, Michael Deane, on how private water companies are mitigating cyber security threats by maintaining a highly-developed expert workforce, establishing security protocols, instituting industry best practices and devising excellent security strategies.
Read the full blog post online and for updates follow Michael Deane on twitter.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), an award-winning innovations laboratory for urban sustainability released a new report yesterday on the urgent need to invest in repairing and replacing America’s crumbling infrastructure. Titled, The Case for Fixing the Leaks, the report is focused on the Great Lakes region as a case study to demonstrate the challenges we are facing across the country.
The full report is available on CNT’s website.
EPA’s Office of Water has released a report to help raise the awareness of water’s importance to our national economic welfare, and to summarize information that public and private decision-makers can use to better manage the nation’s water resources.
The report, titled The Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy, identifies key data gaps, and describes the implication of the study’s findings for future research. EPA intends this report to serve as a catalyst for a broader discussion about water’s critical role in the U.S. economy.
The main findings of the report include that:
- Water is absolutely fundamental to the U.S. economy
- Water value and competition will rise
- Decision-makers in the private and public sectors need more information
The full report is available online.
Dilma Seli Pena and Carter Strickland will participate in a keynote session on the first day of the American Water Summit 2013, being held in Washington D.C. Tuesday, November 5 through Wednesday, November 6.
Pena is the CEO of Sabesp, the biggest and most prosperous water utility in Brazil. The company provides water service to 26.7 million customers in São Paulo state—or 60% of the population. Pena is also president of the board of directors of Emae and Cesp and has held various positions in the federal government, including strategic investments director at the Ministry of Planning, assistant secretary of planning and economics in the Sao Paulo State government and president of the National Forum of the Sanitation States Secretaries. In her keynote, Pena will address how Sabesp has balanced the needs of its public sector majority owner with those of private investors on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Bovespa Brazilian stock exchange.
Strickland is commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). During his keynote, he will discuss the creation and implementation of Strategy 2011-2014, which is the DEP’s plan to achieve its goal of becoming “the safest, most effective, cost-efficient and transparent water utility in the nation.” Strickland, who largely contributed to the development of Strategy 2011-2014 in his former role as deputy commissioner for sustainability at DEP, has also been involved in environmental planning, analysis, permitting, policy and enforcement programs at DEP.
The NAWC is proud to be a sponsor of the American Water Summit 2013, which brings together water utility leaders, business water users, investors, engineers and water technology companies to discuss key water issues currently facing our country today.
Check out the full American Water Summit 2013 agenda and book now to be a part of this exciting event and help make a better future for water in America.
Today marks the one-year anniversary since Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the Eastern Seaboard, leaving more than $68 billion of devastation in its wake. Extreme weather events of this kind have grown more prevalent in recent years—devastating communities, claiming lives, damaging property and threatening sensitive infrastructures such as drinking water and wastewater systems. In the face of these challenges, skilled and dedicated water professionals continue to work hard to minimize service disruptions.
The public and private companies that represent the water industry have many systems and processes in place to deal with catastrophic storms like Hurricane Sandy. In fact, water service is rarely interrupted during storms, even when electricity has been lost. However, as climate change evolves and the threat of larger and more frequent storms grows, water companies must continuously stay ahead of the storm and prepare for the worst.
During Sandy, Middlesex Water Company was faced with the challenge of providing service to 400,000 customers amidst widespread power outages and faulty generators. Fortunately, the facility’s standby generators were functioning within hours and intensified social media efforts kept customers informed. The experience reaffirmed the importance of thinking ahead and planning for worst case scenarios. As a result, over the last year, Middlesex has expanded its emergency preparedness plans to better anticipate weather events of Sandy’s magnitude. In addition to increasing the number of generators in the Middlesex system, the company further developed its communications processes—both internally and with customers. This includes streamlining emergency response plans, reinforcing its incident command structure and instituting an improved customer notification system called DIRECTAlert.
Hurricane Sandy also served as a catalyst for improving preparedness at New Jersey American Water. Before the storm hit, the company had been testing a tracking program that used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) as a more effective alternative to analog maps and charts. The use of digital mapping and GIS-GPS tracking allowed the company to determine the service status of select systems within seconds of the storm, which helped quickly identify the areas that needed the most attention. Since then, the company has focused on strengthening their service abilities, including the expansion of the GIS-GPS tracking system.
Throughout the storm and in the weeks following, all affected businesses struggled with how to communicate with customers. Within the past year, United Water has greatly improved two-way communications by expanding its social media presence through Twitter and Facebook. These platforms—in addition to customer service lines, direct calls to customers and the company website—allow United Water to keep customers informed during emergency situations, as well as gather their feedback and specific concerns. In 2014, United Water plans to roll out a new smartphone application that allows customers to report potential water service issues, such as an open fire hydrant, leaky pipe or even a water main break.
No one knows when the next weather crisis will occur, but the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy will help ensure that we are more prepared. Nothing touches as much of our lives as water, and as such, we have a responsibility to manage it, remaining fully aware of its crucial role in virtually every social, cultural and economic element of our society. Public and private companies will need to continue working together to develop and implement innovative crisis management solutions.
On Tuesday, November 5 through Wednesday, November 6, the American Water Summit 2013 will be held just outside Washington, DC. The NAWC is proud to be a sponsor of this event, which brings together water utility leaders, business water users, investors, engineers and water technology companies to discuss key water issues currently facing our country today.
From new financial models to deeper levels of engagement with corporate water users, there are many important changes happening in the water industry. The theme of the American Water Summit 2013, “Accelerating Change,” represents the efforts to continue moving that change forward, through creative and innovative measures that help meet our most significant challenges.
The first day of the Summit will kick off with a panel of keynote speakers that includes Dilma Seli Pena, director-president and member of the board of directors of the Water and Sanitation Company of the State of São Paulo, Brazil (Sabesp), and Carter Strickland, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Small icebreaking discussions facilitated by industry experts will follow, with topics that include (among others) emerging trends in water technology investment, innovative financing initiatives at the federal, state and municipal levels, how to grow the market for PPPs in America and creating space for innovation in water utilities.
Also included on the first day’s agenda are two “One-2-One” networking sessions (an opportunity to meet with other delegates), Global Water Intelligence (GWI) research presentations, as well as numerous sessions covering topics such as the link between sustainable water management and economic growth, new directions in water finance, the effect of water management on businesses, water investment, delivering better operational performance and growth opportunities coming in the next three years. NAWC members speaking at sessions will include Jeff Sterba, president and CEO, American Water, Bertrand Camus, CEO, United Water, Scott Haskins, director of Technology, Quality and Innovation, CH2M HILL and Todd Williams, Global Residuals Resource Recovery Technology Leader, CH2M HILL.
The second day of the Summit will begin with a panel featuring US mayors from New York, Texas and Florida (among others) discussing their ideas for improving water quality and wastewater services in their communities, followed by a Water Leaders Session on “Needs, Expectations and Delivery.” Additional sessions throughout day two will discuss how the industry is using limited finances to deliver quality water service and the latest Water-Energy Nexus developments (featuring Robert Bailey, president of the Water Business Group, CH2M HILL).
The Summit will conclude with water plant tours at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant—the largest plant of this type in the world.
Check out the full American Water Summit 2013 agenda and book now to be a part of this exciting event and help make a better future for water in America.
On Wednesday, November 6 through Thursday, November 7, the Southeast Chapter of the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) will hold the 2013 Southeast Water Infrastructure Summit in Chattanooga, TN.
This year’s Summit, the first of its kind in Chattanooga, brings together leaders from the private and public sectors across the southeast region to discuss ongoing challenges, innovative approaches and critical solutions to water infrastructure issues facing communities today. Local, state, regional and national experts will address how to balance the critical need for investments in water and wastewater infrastructure while protecting the environment, customers and businesses.
As the newest and largest chapter in the NAWC’s network of ten state chapters, the Southeast chapter seeks to elevate the infrastructure investment discussion to the regional level at the 2013 Southeast Water Infrastructure Summit. The event, “Building the Water and Wastewater Infrastructure of the Future” will provide a forum for community water and wastewater systems – private and public – to collaborate on the shared goal of continuing to deliver safe, reliable water and wastewater services to communities.
Earlier this year, the NAWC launched the Water Is Your Business campaign to start the conversation on water infrastructure needs on a national level, citing statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that estimate a national need of $650 billion in infrastructure investment. Furthermore, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2013 report, the state of Tennessee alone has reported $3.5 billion in water infrastructure needs and another $1.4 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
Expert speakers at the Summit will include state regulators, representatives from the U.S. EPA, local government officials, economists and executive from some of the region’s largest private water utilities. Topics will include infrastructure investment in competitive environments, the benefits of public-private partnerships, the impact of water infrastructure on regional and local business levels and infrastructure costs in relation to shrinking state and local public budgets.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke will open Thursday’s morning session. For the full agenda and speaker list, visit the 2013 Southeast Water Infrastructure Summit homepage.
Pennsylvania American Water has announced the launch of the “Community Investment Challenge,” a contest that will let voters on the company’s Facebook page determine grant awards to support environmental projects and community improvement programs.
The top three projects receiving the most votes on the company’s Facebook contest page will receive awards of $1,000 (first-place), $700 (second-place) and $300 (third place). Projects planned for 2014 in Pennsylvania American Water’s service areas should fit the following criteria to be eligible.
•Water and the Environment: Innovative, community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect watersheds and communities’ surface and groundwater.
•Water and Healthy Living: Efforts that contribute to healthy communities by promoting safe water and sanitation, educating the public on the health benefits of water and encouraging good hygiene practices.
•Environmental Education: Educational programs that provide information about water conservation, water and wastewater treatment, the water cycle, watershed protection and the environment.
•Community Sustainability: Projects that meet a definitive, sustainable community need, preferably aligned with the company’s core business, and enrich the lives of the residents who live and work in communities served by Pennsylvania American Water.
The full eligibility criteria, deadlines and link to the application are available online.
Guest post by Todd Gartner and James Mulligan - A version of this post also appeared on the World Resources Institute’s Insights blog on October 14, 2013.
Incorporating strategically secured networks of forests can complement existing “built” infrastructure, reduce water-management costs, and effectively secure clean drinking water.
Securing clean water is becoming increasingly difficult in the United States. Infrastructure like dams and treatment plants are aging, water demand is increasing, and more frequent extreme weather events like wildfires and flooding are driving up the cost of water management.
It’s a complex problem, but the World Resources Institute is proposing a decidedly low-tech response: Invest in nature. A global research organization, the World Resources Institute (WRI) works closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain a healthy environment. Launched this year, WRI’s Nature for Water project will explore how the incorporating strategically secured networks of forests, wetlands, and floodplains can complement existing “built” infrastructure to reduce water-management costs and effectively secure clean drinking water.
Our new publication, Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States, pulls together the insights of more than 50 authors from the front lines of efforts to integrate “natural infrastructure” into water management. The publication, co-edited with Earth Economics and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, provides comprehensive guidance to help water utilities, municipalities, businesses, land management organizations, and other decision makers better manage their water systems by securing forests and other ecosystems.
The guide paints a picture of the current “state of practice” of natural infrastructure investment, showing that there is ample opportunity for securing natural infrastructure for water and an expanding toolkit for doing so.
NAWC congratulates Aquarion’s Donald J. Morrissey on being named “Chief Financial Officer of the Year”. Since joining Aquarion in 1995, Morrissey has served in a number of roles, including Controller, Vice President of Finance, and CFO and was promoted to Executive Vice President in 2012. In his current position he oversees all aspects of Aquarion’s financial management, strategic and financial planning, and risk management.
From Aquarion’s press release:
“For nearly 20 years, Aquarion and its customers have been the beneficiaries of Don’s outstanding talents,” said Aquarion President and CEO Charles V. Firlotte, “His expertise in financial strategy and business development have helped grow and strengthen the company. We congratulate him on being named CFO of the Year.”
The full release is available online.
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