Ace 2024 opening general session thread

June 11, 2024
ACE 2024 opening general session thread.

The 2024 American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE) is underway in Annaheim, California. The exposition takes place between June 10-June 13, 2024.

The opening general session features awards and speakers, and focuses on the state of the water industry.

April DeBaker AWWA director of conventions is retiring after 30 years of working with the company and attending every ACE event outside of two years during COVID.

"Thank you for 30 great years, I will miss all of you," said DeBaker in the opening general session.

David LaFrance, CEO of AWWA, started by comparing swimming from Alcatraz island to San Francisco to the state of the water industry.

"I feel like that's like some of the things that are happening at ACE this year," said LaFrance. "You look back, see that you're halfway there, and look forward and see how far you have to go."

"We're celebrating 50 years of the Safe Water Drinking Act," said LaFrance. "As we're swimming we need to look back at how far we've come, and then look forward to see how far we need to go."

"I hope during your time here over the next few days that you engage with some of the programming related to Water2050," LaFrance ended.

"We're focusing on development," said Larry Lyford, chair of the California-Nevada section. 

"How many of you knew you were going to go into the water industry," said Lyford. "Reach out to young people and invite them into the industry."

"I had the opportunity to see the water sector from both sides," said Pat Mulroy keynote speaker for the opening general session. "I've learned that we have some challenges we need to look at. I have some challenges for everyone in the room. We need to open our ears (to our customers)."

"You can't have conservation if you don't have community as your partner," said Mulroy. "They need to know where you're coming from."

Mulroy said the biggest challenge right now is the governance structure. 

"My biggest accomplishment is founding the Southern-Nevada Water Authority," said Mulroy. Mulroy noted that they addressed their governance structure and looked at things like planning for the future such as looking ahead 50 years.

"Once you have that governance structure in place, things come under control," said Mulroy. 

"When it comes to infrastructure we've become paralyzed, we're afraid to build," said Mulroy. "There isn't a water project being built that doesn't have a constituency of naysayers. This industry will fall apart if we don't get rid of our paralysis."

Mulroy said that with climate change we have to be able to build new facilities. 

"Common sense needs to come back into the picture," said Mulroy. "We understand technology, but our customers don't."

"A couple of bad apples can spoil the whole barrel. Be different. Most importantly be audacious," said Mulroy. 

"Why are we so afraid of audacious solutions? Don't tell me it can't work. Tell me a way that it can work," said Mulroy when talking about desalination solutions and the benefits a project like that would have on community.

"Our communities are diverse, and that diversity is our strength," said Mulroy. 

"I leave you with great hope and great confidence that those sitting in this room hold the key to the future," concluded Mulroy.


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