Anaheim Hosts Annual Water Expo

May 14, 2015
Water and wastewater professionals across the nation and around the globe are gearing up to attend American Water Works Association's 134th Annual Conference & Exposition (ACE15). Taking place June 7-10 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., the event will provide a wide range of valuable resources and opportunities for its attendees. This year, ACE15 is expected to bring together over 12,000 industry leaders to network with other experts, discover new solutions, and experience a wealth of valuable information.  

By Art Haddaway

Water and wastewater professionals across the nation and around the globe are gearing up to attend American Water Works Association's (AWWA) 134th Annual Conference & Exposition (ACE15) -- one of today's leading water industry conventions. Taking place June 7-10 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., the event will provide a wide range of valuable resources and opportunities for its attendees.

This year, ACE15 is expected to bring together over 12,000 industry leaders to network and collaborate with other experts, discover new trends and solutions, and experience a wealth of valuable information through a number of interactive and educational programs. The conference is also expected to convene more than 1,100 companies that will exhibit their latest products and services, including plant operating equipment, water and wastewater treatment systems, safety and security services, green infrastructure and stormwater management offerings, and utility management supplies, to name a few.

In addition to the exposition, ACE15 will feature 19 concurrent professional tracks -- AWWA's largest program in recent years -- and more than 100 individual technical sessions with over 700 presenters over the course of the four-day event. Further, the convention will host six full- and half-day pre-conference Sunday workshops, as well as six facility tours on Tuesday and Wednesday, providing a "day-in-the-life" experience at local water and wastewater plants.

Tracks at ACE15 will encompass important topics that include the business of asset management; resilience planning and emergency response; improving performance through effective leadership; communicating with stakeholders; regulatory compliance; integrated water resource management; best practices for watershed management; water quality challenges; advances in water treatment; infrastructure design and project delivery; managing buried infrastructure; and optimizing distribution systems operations; among others.

Cynthia Lane, AWWA director of Engineering and Technical Services, explained that this year, the organization has tailored some of its tracks to focus on critical water challenges, trends and technologies relevant to the water and wastewater sector as well as vital issues that industry experts are deeming critical. "We've added some tracks that maybe we haven't had in the past but [that] respond to what our attendees ask for," she said.

For example, for the first time, AWWA is directly collaborating with one of its local sections -- the California/Nevada division -- where ongoing drought and water scarcity are driving the development of new and innovative water conservation technologies. "We focused in a little bit more on the major issues in the Western United States and are trying to highlight those through our technical program," said Lane.

These tracks include drought preparation and response; practical applications for water conservation; and overcoming challenges to implementing direct potable reuse (DPR) and desalination. "DPR is a huge topic within the drinking water sector now … and we're going to have sessions from the WateReuse Research Association highlighting some of [its] most recent research," said Lane. "We have another track dedicated to water conservation and how utilities can develop some programs and implement new policies and procedures that will help their utility manage in times of water shortage."

Lane also noted that ACE15 will reintroduce a small systems track created to ensure that water quality and services in smaller communities remains on par with larger systems. These sessions will address source development, treatment, storage, distribution, operations, engineering, management, and HR needs. "We brought that back this year … because we had a lot of smaller utilities that are actually starting to come back to ACE."

Introduced last year and continuing into this year, ACE15 will also offer an entire track pertaining to utility management practices and technology innovation for utility operations. "We've seen a lot of utilities trying to look at the data they collect and look at their processes and try to find better ways to use technology to help them optimize their operations," said Lane, "so we're really putting a lot of focus on technology and utility management and how those two things can be integrated to the best end result."

Along with ACE15's professional program, AWWA has also partnered with Imagine H2O to debut a large innovation lounge and education area dedicated to the development and programming of innovation in the water and wastewater industry. Likewise, it serves as a platform where attendees can explore its many programs and visit with developers of award-winning water technology solutions for different water challenges.

ACE15 is also expanding its international component by featuring an international resource center (Booth 200), an international reception networking event on Monday, and a wide variety of other global content throughout the week. "A lot of what's going on in the Western United States and water management is also applicable to the Middle East, to Africa, to many other parts of the world, so we're really looking at developing our programming and developing our offerings, trying to find content that would appeal to the global community," she said.

The conference will also feature a large student and young professional (YP) program that includes multiple networking, educational and career-advancing opportunities. It comprises a student membership caucus, YP professionals assembly, Meet the Future Leaders reception, Fresh Ideas poster competition and display, and student/YP scavenger hunt. All of the professional tracks are eligible for continuing education credits, offering 2.8 CEUs, or 28 contact hours, depending upon the state.

Monday's opening general session will feature Brent Frew, chief engineer for the San Francisco 49er's Stadium Management Company, the organization that manages Levi's Stadium, who will share a behind-the-scenes look at the new sports and entertainment venue. WW

Exhibit Floor Hours

Monday, June 8
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tuesday, June 9
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Wednesday, June 10
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.


Throughout the week, ACE15 will again feature its three popular competitions: Pipe Tapping, Meter Madness and Top Ops.

Pipe Tapping, a crowd favorite, is a high-energy race against time to drill into a cement-lined, ductile iron pipe and install a tap. Entrants include returning champion Servicios de Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey's San Miguel of Mexico and returning finalist Birmingham Water Works of Birmingham, Ala.

"To win says a lot just because of the accuracy and the speed that it takes to do a pipe tap in such a short period of time," noted Lorenzo Clay of the Birmingham Water Works team. "These are people who we hang out with outside of work and the tapping competition, so the camaraderie is there," he added, "and it just gives us an opportunity to compete on a big stage and have the opportunity to receive recognition."

Alfredo Garcia, SADM superintendent, added, "Having traveled to the U.S. to compete … [the contest] became very important for workers' incentives and greatly increased the interest in participating in our local competition. We now have the opportunity not only to return to ACE15 to defend our championship but also have the opportunity to represent AWWA in the Water World Cup."

Meter Madness is another fast-paced contest where competitors are pitted against the clock to assemble a water meter from a bucket of parts. The contests begin at the local AWWA Section level, where the winners are then eligible to compete in the national tournament. "When I first started, everything was new to me," said returning champion Michael Dunavant with Spotsylvania of Fredericksburg, Va. "I didn't know what to expect, but one good thing about the contest is not so much the contest itself but the people that you meet. One big part of the contest is that people help you -- everybody reaches out to everybody."

The jeopardy-style Top Ops contest features one, two or three water operators or lab personnel from all AWWA Sections who compete against each other in a fast-paced question-and-answer tournament. A moderator poses a broad range of technical questions and math problems, and the team scoring the most points in the championship round is awarded the championship.

"It's for pretty big stakes as far as bragging rights go," said Jim Hogan, manager of water operations for Palm Coast Utility Division -- whose Palm Coast Water Buoys are a returning champion. "I think it really helps out with our city and us as operators. It helps improve us in the jobs that we do because we spend an inordinate amount of time studying material and practicing for the competition, and that just makes us better operators."

Sample Sessions. Here are a few examples of workshops, tracks and sessions being offered at ACE15. Visit for a complete list, times and locations.

Sunday, June 7 – Workshops
SUN01 Design & Optimization of Ozone Deep-Bed Filters and UV Disinfection Systems

SUN02 Mining & Collecting the "Right Data" to Support Advanced Pipeline Asset Management

SUN04 The Journey to DPR – Direct Potable Reuse Treatment Technology & Drivers

SUN05 Water Loss Control Training

Monday, June 8
MON02 Pushing the Boundaries of Conventional Planning and Rate Setting

MON03 Workforce Solutions to Keep Up with a Rapidly Changing World

MON17 Meeting the Unique Challenges of Retrofitting Water Treatment Plants

MON18 Work Smarter, Not Harder: Energy and OPEX Savings through Process Control

Tuesday, June 9
TUE05 Effective Communications: How to Keep Big Changes From Becoming Huge Headaches

TUE12 Commercial, Industrial and Institutional: The Next Generation of Water Conservation

TUE17 Biological Filtration: Conversion and Best Management Practices

TUE25 Promoting Diversity through Leadership: Case Studies and Personal Perspectives

Wednesday, June 10
WED07 A Comprehensive Approach to Achieving Water and Financial Sustainability

WED15 Pumps, Tanks and Pipes: Providing Infrastructure That Works and Lasts

WED34 Exploring the Impacts of Wastewater Discharges on our Drinking Water Sources

WED37 Advances in Coagulants and Polymers: Optimizing Treatment and Water Quality

Poster Sessions
PST01 Management, Distribution Systems & Construction Posters

PST02 Fresh Ideas Posters

PST03 Research, Water Quality & Treatment, Universities Forum Posters

PST04 Reuse, Water Resources, and Water Conservation Posters

PST05 Cal-Nevada Poster Session

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About the Author

Art Haddaway | Assistant Editor

Art Haddaway is the Assistant Editor of WaterWorld and Industrial WaterWorld magazines. A writer and editor of over 10 years, he has contributed to a variety of regional publications covering everything from current events to creative features. Art is a graduate of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism.

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