More than 7,700 water professionals gathered at the Henry B. González Convention Center to kick off the American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE22) and seek solutions to both present and future water challenges.
The Opening General Session featured a presentation by Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, the NASA scientist whose team discovered water on Mars, and the launch of a multi-year AWWA initiative called “Water 2050,” which will envision the future of water and chart a course for sustainability and success.
ACE22, June 13-15, features 16 professional learning tracks and 80 sessions, including 26 sessions that will be streamed virtually. An exposition showcases more than 360 water technology providers and innovators in more than 900 booths. The event also features several competitions, including the Best of the Best Water Taste Test, in which regional tap water taste champions compete for the best tasting water in North America; and the Pipe Tapping competition, in which water utility teams race against one another to swiftly drill into a water pipe and deliver water to a tap.
In a morning address, AWWA President Chi Ho Sham reflected on his upbringing in Hong Kong, where safe water service was unreliable, and urged attendees to provide opportunities for people from all backgrounds to succeed in water. He added, “We need to stay creative in our work. Our changing world demands it. Innovation is needed to manage our water resources with a multiple dimensional approach – including quantity and quality.”
The opening session began with a Water 2050 video titled “The Future We Create,” featuring young water professionals reflecting on the future of water and the challenges ahead. “As members of the water sector, we must continue to evolve and think of innovative ideas and solutions and continue to be advocates for our water resources around the world,” observes Holly Mettlen, a project engineer with Black & Veatch in South Carolina and one of many young professionals in the video.
Water 2050 is a theme throughout ACE22. Attendees participate directly in the initiative at the AWWA Pavilion in the exposition hall, where an artist is developing sketches in real time reflecting Water 2050 insights gathered from the crowd. At 11:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, June 15, The Last Drop closing keynote features a Water 2050 panel discussion with two members of the project advisory team – Andy Richardson from Greeley and Hansen and Jennifer Sara from The World Bank – and Colby Pellegrino from Las Vegas Valley Water.
A signature element of Water 2050 is a series of five intimate think tanks where participants will examine water through the prism of five drivers: sustainability, technology, economics, governance and social/demographics. The first of the five think tanks is set for September in Las Vegas and focuses on sustainability. Each think tank will generate a report with recommendations for a strong and sustainable water future.
To learn more about the conference agenda and to register, visit the ACE22 webpage.
Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.