'If You're Not Moving Forward, You're Falling Behind'

WWWEMA exists to not only meet but also anticipate its members' needs using the knowledge and breadth of connections it has at the local, state, national, and international levels. This requires that the organization constantly review and peruse countless news articles, market reports, Congressional websites, water association newsletters, and other sources of information to distill and transmit the information to its members.


By Vanessa Leiby

This is a favorite expression of one of my WWEMA Board members and one that I took to heart when I became the new WWEMA Executive Director in January 2014. The concept epitomizes my management style and approach to leadership -- always looking for new ideas, tools and programming to help my membership gain knowledge and a competitive advantage.

As a membership organization, we exist to not only meet but also anticipate our members' needs using the knowledge and breadth of connections we have at the local, state, national, and international levels. This requires that we constantly review and peruse countless news articles, market reports, the Federal Register, Congressional websites, water association newsletters, and other sources of information to distill and transmit the information to our members.

We have formalized this process to provide our members with a weekly Member Bulletin that contains not only a summary of the week's events but also a "Market Watch" segment that provides information on upcoming projects and funding opportunities in both the U.S. and foreign markets. We strive to make sure our members hear it from us first and in a timely manner that allows them to make critical business decisions.

We are also actively engaged in water organizations such as the American Water Works Association, the Water Environment Federation, the WateReuse Association, and many others where we attend events, sit on committees and help lead policy discussions. This active engagement is critical to staying on top of the trends and new directions in the industry and ensuring that our members are active participants in shaping the future of the water industry.

Attendance at events, such as this year's WEFTEC in Chicago, provides an excellent opportunity for us to connect with current members, network with prospective members, and learn firsthand from leaders in the industry who are constantly innovating to solve today's water treatment and management challenges to create a better future for all of us. While "innovation" seems to be the current buzzword, it is important to reflect on the long and storied history of the water industry, which has continually been driven by problem-solving solutions that make drinking water safer and our waterways and environment cleaner. It is a history we should be proud of and a future we should continue to embrace.

We also monitor important trends such as the concept of "one water," which breaks down the silos between drinking water, wastewater and stormwater, and recognizes that water is one resource that needs to be actively managed and in many cases reused to meet both human and environmental needs. This is a growing area of interest not only in drought-stricken areas of our country but also in water-rich areas that need to ensure better beneficial water management.

The water-energy nexus also continues to gain momentum, with water and wastewater utilities becoming increasingly aware of the amount and cost of their energy usage. Collaboration among water and energy utilities is a great way to conserve precious resources, decrease operating costs and extend the life of aging infrastructure.

Much has also been written about the aging demographics of our water industry. Along with aging infrastructure, this is probably one of our biggest looming challenges and one that needs to be proactively addressed now before a critical mass of retirements leaves the water industry without the knowledge base needed to maintain our forward momentum.

These are all areas in which WWEMA and its members are actively engaged in identifying and providing solutions. I am proud to be associated with this organization and the many dedicated professionals who absolutely understand the value of moving forward!

About the Author: Vanessa Leiby is the executive director of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA). Founded in 1908, WWEMA has been the respected voice of the technology equipment provider for more than 100 years.

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