ACE14 Draws More Than 11,000 Attendees to Boston

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) held its Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE14) in Boston, Mass., June 8-11. 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 Monday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani opened the Opening General Session with a keynote address stressing the importance of tackling North America?s impending water infrastructure crisis.

Giuliani urged water utility leaders and public officials to be courageous in communicating the need to reinvest in water infrastructure, acknowledging that ?sometimes it?s a message they don?t want to hear, because it?s a message that says you?re going to have to spend money.?

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 utilize 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.

Donahue Officially Takes Helm of AWWA at Annual Gavel Passing

In a spirited event at the conclusion of the American Water Works Association?s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE14) in Boston, John Donahue, chief executive officer of North Park (Ill.) Water District, on Wednesday June 11, 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.

Saying he considered this to be ?the most exciting time in recent memory for AWWA,? Donahue summarized a plan for stronger Association-Section alignment and elevated efforts to open a new AWWA office in India.

?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.?

Noting that only 28 percent of households in India have access to piped drinking water and 26 percent have access to sanitation, Donahue said India?s water challenges are in some ways similar to those that gave birth to AWWA.

?I say, as the world?s foremost authority on safe water, we not only have the capability to make a difference in countries like India, but we have an obligation to do so,? he said. ?I am excited for the challenges that lay before us and I firmly believe we are not only capable of meeting them, but far exceeding them.?

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 Barack Obama on Tuesday 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.

Donahue has been an active member of AWWA?s Illinois Section for more than 20 years, earning the George Warren Fuller Award in 2009. At the Association level, Donahue has served as an Association vice president, represented the Illinois Section as a member of the Board of Directors and has chaired or participated on numerous Association committees including the Distribution Plant Operations Division, Heroism Award and Operator Involvement Committees.

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