AWWA’s ACE16 Draws Water Community to Chicago


ACE16 drew more than 12,000 water professionals to Chicago, June 20-22.

The American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) 2016 Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE16) was in Chicago last week for its 135th annual conference and drew more than 12,000 attendees to McCormick Place West. AWWA’s ACE is the longest running water conference in the world, having first convened in 1881.

The ACE16 professional program focused on major water sector issues such as lead service line management, financing water infrastructure programs, developing robust asset management plans, addressing water loss in distribution systems, responding to harmful algal blooms in surface water, implementing potable reuse solutions, and much more. The program also addressed the changing needs of the global water community with 19 professional tracks, 111 sessions and six Sunday workshops.


The ACE16 exposition featured more than 500 exhibiting companies at McCormick Place West.

This year, more than 500 exhibitors showcased water industry products and services. The 2016 technical program also offered attendees a strong focus on innovation with professional sessions to engage with water utility leaders, the regulatory community, and manufacturers as they shared approaches to overcoming barriers and accelerating innovation within the water sector. Attendees also had numerous networking and educational opportunities in the exhibit hall, the AWWA Pavilion, the Career Center Job Fair, International Resource Center, poster sessions, competitions, roundtables and the Innovation Lounge.

Sponsors for ACE16 included platinum sponsor Neptune Technology Group, Opening General Session HomeServe, gold sponsors Greeley and Hansen and Sensus, and bronze sponsor CH2M.

The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and comedian Jay Mohr also spoke during at ACE16. Cantore gave the opening keynote to attendees during the ACE16 Opening General Session on Mon., June 20, discussing his tenacious reporting and coverage of every major weather event over the past 25 years, the effects of climate change and the power of water.

Mohr spoke during the Water Industry Luncheon on Tues., June 21. Mohr is a versatile comedian, actor, radio host and author known for his stand-up comedy, his work on the movie “Jerry Maguire” and his radio show “Jay Mohr Sports” on Fox Sports Radio.

ACE is known for its popular competitions in the exhibit hall, such as the Pipe Tapping Contest, Top-Ops, Meter Madness and the Best of the Best Water Taste Test. Pipe tapping features teams racing the clock to drill into a cement-lined, ductile iron pipe to install a tap, while Meter Madness features competitors who must assemble a water meter from a bucket of parts.

Winners of the Pipe Tapping Contest included the returning champions from Servicios de Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey (SADM), Mexico’s Monterrey state water utility on the men’s side, and on the women’s side, Lansing Lethal Ladies from the Lansing Board of Water and Light, took home first prize for the third year running.


Attendees look on as judges sample water for the 12th annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test held in the exhibit hall. The winner was the City of Bloomington, Minn.

City of Bloomington Wins AWWA’s ‘Best of the Best’ Tap Water Taste Test

The City of Bloomington, Minn., won first place at the 12th annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test. The competition was sponsored by Avista Technologies, Inc., and composed of regional winners from water-tasting competitions across North America.

Second place went to the City of Iola, Kan., and third place in the competition was the Village of Canajoharie, N.Y. The People’s Choice award winner, as determined by the conference attendees, went to City Corporation, Russellville, Ark.

The City of Bloomington utilities employs more than 50 people to run the water treatment plant, do field maintenance, serve customers and administer the area. The division processes clear, clean water at the water treatment plant and distributes it to the city’s more than 85,000 residents, while also processing the city’s wastewater.

Other “Best of the Best” participants in the competition included: Anniston Water and Sewer Board, Anniston, Ala.; Augusta Utilities, Augusta, Ga.; Capital Region Water, Harrisburg, Pa.; City of Chesapeake, Va.; City of Hamilton, Ohio; City of Manistique, Mich.; City of Moline, Ill.; City of St. John’s, Newfoundland; City if St. Louis, Mo.; City of Tallahassee, Fla.; City of Winnipeg, Manitoba; Duck River Utility Commission, Tullahoma, Tenn.; Georgetown County Water & Sewer District, Pawley’s Island, S.C.; Keokuk, Iowa; Neuse Regional Water & Sewer Authority, LaGrange, N.C.; SUEZ Boise Operations, Boise, Idaho; Town of Castle Rock, Colo.; Trinity River Authority of Texas, Euless, Texas; and Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc.

An esteemed judging panel rated each water system on its flavor characteristics. Judges included Monique Durand, engineer with Hazen and Sawyer P.C., Cliff Shrive, senior principal with Stantec Consulting, and Dave Walker, co-founder and CEO of Avista Technologies, Inc.

Previous competition winners are Big Sky, Mont. (2015), Boston Water and Sewer Commission (2014), Oklahoma City Water and Wastewater Utility (2007 and 2013), Fremont, Neb. (2012), Greenville, S.C. (2011), Stevens Point, Wis. (2010), Macon (Ga.) Water Authority (2009), Louisville (Ky.) Water Company (2008) and Illinois American Water, Champaign District (2006 and 2005).

AWWA’s annual conference will head to Philadelphia next year for ACE17.

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