The Value of Water

San Francisco should host more water industry events. The venue offers a plethora of things to do in addition to your typical trade show attendance.

San Francisco should host more water industry events. The venue offers a plethora of things to do in addition to your typical trade show attendance. And it’s closer - at least for me, being in Tucson, Ariz. Another thing that’s closer to home is the new president of the American Water Works Association, which held ACE05 in mid-June. The Bay Area event drew 12,717 attendees.

At the AWWA helm for 2005-06, Andy Richardson is a principal with Greeley and Hansen LLC, a Chicago-based environmental engineering firm with 16 U.S. offices. He heads its Southwest operations from Phoenix. IWW had a chance to speak with him regarding the relationship between industrial water and wastewater users and the utilities that AWWA represents.

I posed three questions: 1) How do regulatory issues affecting utilities impact industrial water and wastewater services users?; 2) How does improved technology allow utilities to better track wastewater sources and industrial dischargers to help prevent harm to systems operation as well as watersheds?; 3) Please discuss the need for improved communication between industrial users and utilities for homeland security reasons, as well as the changing needs of industrial users with economic growth vs. shortfalls in funding for infrastructure needs.The conversation was wide ranging, but focused largely on the importance of industrial end-users staying more closely in touch with key local and state decision-makers and regulatory officials to both share information on how their processes affect water quality, what their future needs were and what likely regulatory measures they should anticipate down the line.

Richardson drew an analogy to the turn of the last century to today with respect to business needs prompting the growth in U.S. infrastructure and the need today to reinvest in that infrastructure, noting that those communities doing a better job of that likely will attract more industry and the jobs that go with it. AWWA has a series of documents coming out this fall to help better educate communities on “full-cost-of-service” rate rationales and strategies and total water resource management.

“This is something that industry already gets,” Richardson said. “They understand it very well.”

Our full interview with Richardson is available at the Industrial WaterWorld website. Simply do a search at www.industrialww.com for the keywords: “Andy Richardson.”

At a recent Chicago planning meeting for PennWell’s DistribuTECH conference, set for Feb. 7-9, in Tampa, Fla., I also had an opportunity to sit in with a subcommittee looking at what papers to present on the theme “Automation Strategies for the Water Industry.”

Some of the comments were very illuminating as to issues at play in this market segment. Retaining and maintaining qualified personnel with automation expertise is a challenge, not only because of the level of training required but private sector pay scales make it hard to keep them at public utilities. This often leads to a disconnect between field technicians, operators, system managers and equipment providers/systems integrators/consultants, i.e., the first “are the last ones to find out how the decisions were made” for automation systems.

Regarding automation security, the joke was: “Can’t talk about it!” This is presumably due to homeland security issues, which poses the more serious question of how do you get good information for this. It was noted that internal mistakes or sabotage are more likely the cause of breaches of water system security than outside hackers or terrorist attacks.

Click here to read: An interview with Andy Richardson, AWWA 2005-06 president

Carlos David Mogollón, Managing Editor

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