Following two years of canceled programming and virtual events, at AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in June, things felt “normal” again (whatever that means). The show floor was packed with attendees eager to connect with their peers. Smiles — visible now because of the relaxing of mask mandates across the country — were all over; in every seat in conference sessions, and every aisle and booth in the exhibit hall. The energy was palpable, and it felt good to be back.
Part of my time at events like this is spent in meetings and interviews with water sector leaders. In San Antonio, this included AWWA’s Past-President Melissa Elliot and President-Elect Joseph Jacangelo. Both spoke to me about the importance of securing the future of water, charting the course for the next 30 years or so through collaboration and innovation to meet global needs. Officially launched at ACE 22, AWWA’s Water 2050 initiative will engage stakeholders in meaningful conversations that foster collaboration across several sectors for solutions to the global water crisis.
“AWWA’s Water 2050 initiative seeks to establish a long-term vision of the future of water,” Jacangelo said. “This collaborative exploration will take a longer strategic view of the future of water and engage with bold, innovative thinkers.”
In the coming months, Water 2050 will engage thought leaders from within and outside the water sector at think tanks to examine the future of water through five key drivers: sustainability, technology, economics, governance, and social/demographic. It’s a bold step toward defining the future of water — and, with global water supply dwindling, one whose time has clearly come.
Toward that end, this month’s cover story offers a look at how the City of Oceanside (located in San Diego County) is using indirect potable reuse (IPR) coupled with groundwater injection to provide a future-proof water supply for Southern California residents. The $71 million project took eight years of planning and two years of construction during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The facility will begin to flow finished, purified drinking water to city customers later this summer, and can produce anywhere from 3 to 4.5 million gallons daily (MGD). Read more about the project on page 10.
In another story this month, we look at metering systems. Though originally a network of devices used almost exclusively to provide data from which to generate bills, today’s metering systems are so advanced they have become an important and smart tool for forward-thinking communities of all sizes. On page 18, read about how the Town of Pembroke, N.C., has used an advanced metering system to improve employee morale, productivity, and finances.
Our next feature story looks at aeration and tank mixer upgrades in the Searcy (Ark.) Electric Light, Sewer, and Waterworks Improvement District No. 1. Serving approximately 60,000 people, the surface water treatment system pulls naturally corrosive water from the Little Red River and treats it for residents. Repeated motor failures and sealing issues caused several disruptions to the distribution network. Replacing the active tank mixers was the only solution. Read more on page 20.
As we look forward to 2050, we may not know what the future holds — but we can take lessons learned from our peers and implement cost-saving, smart utility-making, high-water producing initiatives today. Now is the time to secure our water future, by charting the next course early.
Thanks for reading! WW
Published in WaterWorld magazine, August 2022.