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Latest News & Quarterly Newsletters: E-Newsletter Fall 2017

Annual Conference Recap

Thursday, November 9, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bryon Elwell, ABS Consulting
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Returning to Sun Valley for our 2017 AWWA IMS Annual Conference was a huge success with the best attendance in recent years with well in excess of 320 people.  The conference was held about a month later than last year’s, starting this time on Wednesday, October 11th through Friday, October 13th.  And no, I didn’t hear about any scary or unlucky incidents with our last day coinciding with Friday the 13th.

This 60th Annual Conference was again action packed and highlighted the conference theme of “Invest in your Community just add H2O” with a variety of activities and opportunities for professional development and networking with our industry peers.  From the start of the conference with the New Member & First Attendee Breakfast on Wednesday morning through the Awards & Closing Lunch on Friday, there were a lot of exciting and interesting things that took place at this year’s Annual Conference.  The Opening General Session titled “The Uncertainty Factor: Water Demand vs. Supply and their Codependent on Water Planning for Communities” was led by our first keynote speaker for the conference, Ray Quay with the Decision Center for a Desert City and was very well attended and found to be insightful and thought provoking.  This was followed by 49 technical presentations held over the 3 day conference with 4 tracks each day to provide conference attendees with a variety of excellent topics and presentations.  This also included our traditional Operators track on Wednesday entitled “Water System O&M” that provided operators and others with valuable training to help maintain operator certifications that are so important in our industry.  Professional CEUs/PDHs were available for both Idaho and Utah water professionals.  The wide range of technical topics at this year’s conference to choose from covered the following: Planning and Resilience, Water Treatment, Water System Technology, Groundwater Wells, Water Conservation, Water Efficiency and Water Loss Control, Water Use Data Validation, Pipe Rehabilitation, Valves, Water – Energy Nexus, Drinking Water Disinfection, Distribution System Water Quality, Filtration Technologies, Utility Monitoring and Management, Stories and Writing, and a variety of other Projects.  Copies of those technical presentations submitted by conference speakers for the above topics are available either by contacting Steve Jones, Technical Program Chair or by contacting the Presenter directly.  Presenter emails can be found on the conference App.  There were also two other excellent keynotes on Thursday and Friday with “INL’s Water Security Test Beds: Improving America’s Ability to Safeguard Our Water Systems” presented by Mike Carpenter, INL which covered various water security related test being performed to scale; and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: How Policy Can Dominate Growth when it comes to Water Planning” presented by Natalie Gochnour, UofU, David Eccles School of Business which illuminated us on the future’s potential with projections on populations and other social demographics that will impact our future water planning.

This year’s Water Taste Test challenge was held just outside the Exhibit hall in the hallway opposite the registration desk and there was excellent participation by our Water Utility members entering their different water sources in the competition.  This included a strong showing by the Idaho Water Utilities.  The tasting and judging of the water samples was again opened up to all those in attendance at the conference.  To find out about all of our winners, please read the article in this fall newsletter prepared by Mike Rau who was in charge of this year’s taste test.

The Exhibitors that attended and who support the AWWA IMS and our Annual Conference did a great job with their booths again this year and there were also several exhibitors that also made technical presentations and/or volunteered for different conference support activities.  There were actually more vendors and exhibitors at this year’s Sun Valley conference than last year’s conference in St George, which validates Sun Valley as an excellent AWWA IMS conference venue.  There was a wide variety of products, materials and services for conference attendees in the exhibit hall and the limited number of vendor surveys received all gave above average marks with some good suggestions for next year’s conference.  We want to thank all of our vendors and exhibitors for their participation in the conference, for without them we would not have a successful annual conference with their sponsorships, contributions and attendance.

There was an excellent variety of activities for this year’s Thursday afternoon including a Scholarship Benefit Golf tournament, a Fly Fishing Casting Class, and a Group Hike.  The weather was a little cool in the low 40s, but that did not seem to deter the attendance at these three events.  The conference was again very successful with the Scholarship drive that included a portion of the golf tournament proceeds going to the annual scholarship fund in addition to donations made in conjunction with the tournament.  You can read more about the Scholarship Golf tournament in Darren Hess’ article that is also in this AWWA IMS fall newsletter.

The conference concluded with the Awards & Closing Lunch, which was excellent as well and had a very well planned and orchestrated presentation of the various awards as well as a video review of the Sun Valley Annual Conference and a look ahead to next year’s conference location in Midway, Utah.

Finally, I want to give special thanks to our Annual Conference Committee members who worked hard to make this year’s annual conference a success as well as our AWWA IMS staff.  I also want to thank those volunteers that served as Moderators during the technical sessions and others that volunteered to assist with the many activities and events that were held throughout the conference.  We will be starting the planning for next year’s Annual Conference in November 2017 and are pleased to announce that we will be trying out a new venue and location next year at Zermatt in Midway, Utah.  So mark your calendar for next year’s Annual Conference to be held again in the fall from Wednesday, October 10th through Friday, October 12th.

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