Professionals gather in Chicago, tackle water quality challenges
More than 12,000 water professionals gathered at Chicago’s McCormick Place West Convention Center for the American Water Works Assn.’s (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE16). The professionals explored solutions to lead and other challenging water quality issues.
During the Opening General Session, AWWA CEO David LaFrance drew from Chicago’s history to demonstrate how water professionals have overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles. He pointed out that the city reversed the flow of the Chicago River in just seven years.
“We’ve all been hearing about lead in water,” said LaFrance. “How can we protect families today while we work for a lead-free future? It is certainly complicated, but definitely possible. The bottom line is water professionals always find a way to take what is complicated and make it possible.”
The Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore added that apparent changes to the water cycle—whether they be from climate change or other factors—are worthy of attention from water professionals as they manage their resources.
In his keynote address, AWWA President Gene Koontz stressed that today’s water professionals must improve as communicators to assure consumers will have confidence in tap water.
“Despite all of our successes, we find that new water quality issues constantly surface, whether they be old enemies like lead, or new ones like perfluorinated compounds,” Koontz said. “We will need empathy to understand the needs of each one of our customers, no matter what their background or status. Assurances that everything is okay is not good enough when even one of our customers has legitimate concerns or unmet needs.”
ACE16 is the longest running water conference in the world. This year’s event featured several hundred presentations in 19 professional tracks and an exposition of more than 500 companies. For more information on the conference, visit www.awwa.org/ace16.