Water leaders, finance experts converge at 2017 Water Finance Conference

Last week, the third annual Water Finance Conference gathered water finance professionals from across the country for a discussion around the most critical issue facing the future of water infrastructure in the United States — funding. The two-day event, held Aug. 28-29 at the Harley-Davidson Museum® in Milwaukee, presented a candid look at funding challenges facing the water/wastewater utility sector.

Water Finance ConferenceThe Water Finance Conference is a two-day event aimed at connecting executive-level utility professionals, including directors, superintendents, CEOs and CFOs with consultants, financial advisors, lawyers and service providers involved in financing municipal water, wastewater and stormwater systems. The event is hosted annually by the journal Water Finance & Management, published by Benjamin Media.

The 2017 Water Finance Conference was presented by main event sponsor, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, along with reception sponsor Echologics, breakfast sponsor SpendCheQ, lunch sponsor RePipe4710 and tabletop sponsor InVizion.

Thank you to the 2017 Water Finance Conference Sponsors & Supporting Organizations

“The Water Finance Conference provides a unique opportunity to connect water utility leaders with new, innovative ideas about how to pay for the needed projects across the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure sectors,” said Bernie Krzys, publisher of the journal Water Finance & Management, organizer of the Water Finance Conference. “Although there are many challenges facing this industry today, funding has always been an issue that never seems to reach the level of improvement it needs. Our goal is to provide a forum for discussion on how to change that narrative and how we can realistically solve these challenges.

Jennifer Gonda, superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works gives an overview on water in Milwaukee and discusses current initiatives.

The 2017 conference agenda got underway on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 28 with a welcome address and opening co-presentation by Jennifer Gonda, superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works and Kevin Shafer, executive director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, who offered the local perspective on Milwaukee’s rich water history. The session then examined a broader outlook on the future of U.S. water infrastructure, concluding with an EPA panel discussion addressing both the outlook for traditional funding sources, as well as innovative mechanisms, such as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, its progress and potential.

Keynote speaker Rich Meeusen, chairman, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Badger Meter, Inc., and co-chair of the Water Council, gave a passionate, enthusiastic talk to attendees on changing the mindset of public officials to invest in improving water infrastructure.

The day concluded with a reception and keynote address by Rich Meeusen, chairman, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Badger Meter, Inc., and co-chair of the Water Council, who gave a passionate, enthusiastic talk to attendees on changing the mindset of public officials to invest in improving water infrastructure.

The program continued on Tuesday, Aug. 29 with sessions focusing on both public and private sources of funding. Topics addressed included stormwater fees, green bonds, customer affordability programs and P3 contracting. Two panel discussions were also on the agenda – one focusing on “The Changing Tide of Water Financing,” featuring leaders of national water associations and a closing panel on “Reducing the Cost of Capital,” which featured innovative financing approaches from the perspective of municipal advisors and attorneys.


Kevin Shafer of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (far left), hosts a panel discussion on “the Changing Tide of Water Finance” with (l-r) Adam Krantz of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies; Michael Deane of the National Association of Water Companies; Alan Roberson of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators; and Dean Amhaus of The Water Council in Milwaukee.


Also returning were the popular networking roundtables, which were held each day, allowing attendees to maximize their experience by participating in group discussions on a variety of water finance topics.

The Water Finance Conference is hosted by the journal Water Finance & Management, published by Benjamin Media. For additional information on the annual Water Finance Conference, please visit the conference website.

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