District 2 Trustee
I write this as I bask in the afterglow of another tremendously successful and informative WATERCON. Once again our Education Committee has out done themselves.
Choosing among the 215 educational programs offered was no easy task.
I'd like to share with you a few of the many "take home" nuggets of information that I brought back from WaterCon and will certainly put to good use.
Cyber Security: While the suspected cyber attack against the Springfield water utility turned out to be unfounded, the process of investigating the incident revealed the need for the FBI to better understand water utilities' reliance on computer control systems, and a better understanding by utilities of the FBI's capabilities and procedures for investigating cyber intrusions. From this I expect to see on ongoing dialogue and developing partnership with the Agency.
LEAD and COPPER: The presentation on testing of alternative lead and copper sample collection protocols in Chicago provided great information on the concerns about first draw sample being unrepresentative of "worst-case" lead exposure along with the difficulties associated with obtaining more representative samples. The report on Racine's difficulties in maintaining compliance with LCR was also very instructive. The ‘lessons learned' by Racine should help others who find themselves exceeding the Action Limit.
Water-Energy Nexus: The report on the Water-energy Nexus study in Illinois provided an overview of energy consumption by various types and sizes of water utilities, providing benchmarks against which we can each measure our own utility's energy efficiency.
Aging Membership: Our keynote speaker, Gene Koontz, brought us the sobering news that half of the AWWA membership will be retiring within the next 10 years. This underlines the urgency of the ongoing efforts to retain current members and recruit new ones. It also underscored the value of our Section's vibrant YP program.
Water Boot: During the Backflow Committee meeting I learned about a novel approach to the increasingly common problem of homeowners unable to afford the annual cost of backflow device testing. One utility deploys tamper resistant locks on these homeowners' sprinkler systems. These are installed for a small fee and remain in place until the homeowner is once again able to afford to activate the irrigation system and test the backflow device.
Metering Accuracy: I found a presentation on common water meter accuracy problems quite enlightening. It gave a new perspective on what is "acceptable accuracy" in metering and what truly best practices in maintaining meter accuracy are.
These are but a few of the take-home lessons that I learned. Every WATERCON attendee has a different experience; but, no doubt, all obtained valuable information, not only from the formal presentations but from the multitude of networking opportunities available. If you missed WaterCon this year be sure to mark your calendar for WaterCon 2013 March 18-21, and remember to book your room early as they fill up fast.
P.S. I don't know who won the iPad in the exhibitor logo hunt contest but I can guarantee you that the winner earned that prize! I never did figure out all of the logos but enjoyed the hunt, nevertheless. What a clever idea to generate exhibit hall traffic!