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The 3rd Annual American Water Summit is fast approaching. It will take place in Chicago one week after the US presidential elections (November 13-15th). Given the evolving ongoing promotion of the growing water/wastewater infrastructure investment needs in the U.S. ($1.0-plus trillion required over the next twenty years according to a number of water related associations and federal government departments), the conference is anticipated to attract a record number of attendees.
As a result of the expanding investment requirements for both new and refurbished water/wastewater-related infrastructure systems in a country that reflects limited available government capital resources, there is unquestionably a critical need to start to think more creatively and begin to implement more visionary models for pursuing projects within the water and wastewater infrastructure and service arena. Without a doubt, there is clearly a need for accessing smarter technologies, alternative project delivery models and expanded options of funding tools/resources when it comes to addressing the country’s ongoing water and wastewater infrastructure and service requirements.
It is evident that a 21st century water/wastewater sector needs to better embrace, implement and reward a collection of existing, as well as newly introduced best practices. Clearly the water leaders of today and the future cannot be afraid to question and ultimately improve upon the old paradigms for doing business in the water infrastructure and service arena.
The American Water Summit has now become recognized as a core annual event to help build a foundation for a successful water future. As an agenda-defining event delivering both the intimacy and openness of a boardroom meeting, the Summit, since its inception in 2010, brings together the leaders from both the public and private sectors — to make the connections, exchange ideas/knowledge and lay the groundwork for a sustainable future within the water/wastewater infrastructure and service arena.
Via thought-leading keynote speakers as well as intimate roundtable discussions and specialist panels , the upcoming conference reaches out to top-level executives and managers from broad breadth of companies involved in the water infrastructure and service area — utilities, engineering firms, equipment manufacturers/suppliers, private operators, financial firms, consultancies, law firms, etc.
The two previous Summits reflected record breaking attendance for a water conference. Both were sold out events.
Last year, the event took place in Atlanta and explored creative solutions related to infrastructure finance, the water/food nexus, environmental management in the shale gas industry, and other critical issues facing the American water marketplace. A much talked about discussion panel focused on municipal bankruptcy and included a presentation from senior officials representing Jefferson County (AL). Ironically, within two hours after the conclusion of the panel, the county decided to file for bankruptcy protection – becoming the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in US history.
The initial American Water Summit took place in the Washington DC area in 2010. Topics addressed included: the water-energy nexus, water policy futures, and new funding models. Keynote speakers included select mayors and governors as well as established recognized DC-based politicians. Presentations were made by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, former Governor Ed Rendell, and Mayor Greg Ballard as well as the head of DC Water, George Hawkins and fearless leader of Southern Nevada Water Authority, Pat Mulroy.
The upcoming 3rd Annual American Water Summit will also be a must attend event. Overall, the Summit will attempt to address three core questions: 1. What are the new business models to revitalize the US water sector; 2. How can the public be better encouraged to pay more for their reliable water services; and 3. Where is the American water sector heading.
There will be a number of notable panel sessions comprising the conference program. The Summit will include an interesting comprehensive panel discussion that addresses the new styles/formats of public-private partnerships; a panel focused on new models for utilities; and a panel that reviews the financial risks associated with projects dependent on trans-boundary waters and highlights the concept of inter-jurisdictional water conflicts.
Additional panels will showcase a nexus of ideas designed to draw increased investment into the water sector and the food-water nexus; and the importance of balancing agricultural water needs with municipal and industrial water needs. There will also be a panel that will explore a range of innovative finance structures currently available for the water infrastructure sector.
A must attend panel session is the Mayors’ Panel. Comprised of five mayors, this panel will involve a live discussion about ongoing financial challenges that are faced by US municipalities across the country and the impact of these challenges when it comes to financing municipal water and wastewater infra-structure and service requirements.
As in past years, the 2012 Summit will allocate time for networking roundtable discussions focused on a number of critical topics within the US water/wastewater arena – topics like funding options, desalination, water reuse, technology development, sustainable water rates, water-energy nexus, strat¬egies for water sustainability in the US Army, etc.
A major highlight of the 2012 American Water Summit will be there Gala Dinner. It will be the setting for the presentation of the inaugural American Water Awards. The award categories include utility performer of the year, partnership performance of the year, technology project of the year, and environmental project of the year. All conference attendees will be able to vote for the winners from a set of acknowledged nominees.
And the American Water Summit will include a keynote address by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn who has just launched a $1 billion Clean Water Initiative.
The upcoming 2012 American Water Summit is certainly event not to be missed. There is only a small collection of attendee spots still available. Do not be left out. To register for the conference, visit the website at www.americanwatersummit.com.