2019 Executive Management Conference - Program

Sunday, October 20, 2019

9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Policy Resolutions Committee Meeting (all members welcome)
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Executive Committee Meeting (closed)
10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Board of Directors Meeting
1:30 – 4:30 p.m. (closed session from 1:30 - 2:00 p.m.)

Welcome Reception
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


Monday, October 21, 2019

7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Networking Continental Breakfast
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

Welcome, Election of Directors and Adoption of Policy Resolutions
8:30 – 8:40 a.m.

General Session I

Challenge & Change: Leading Today's Water Utility
8:40 – 12:00 p.m.

Mabel Miguel, PhD
Professor of Organizational Behavior
Kenan-Flagler Business School
UNC-Chapel Hill

The Challenge & Change workshop will focus on the most significant changes utility executives are facing in their organizations and will provide tools to manage and lead these changes most effectively.  This will be a hands-on session where participants will learn both from the instructor and from each other and leave with a specific plan of action.

2019 Utility Management Awards Luncheon
12:30 - 2:15 p.m.

Board meeting (closed)
2:15 - 2:30 p.m.

General Session II
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Setting the Tone: Using New Employee Meetings to Build Organizational Unity
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Jeff Clarke
General Manager
Alderwood Water & Wastewater District

The on-boarding process for new personnel is an important opportunity to communicate a utility’s management philosophy and expectations of staff performance.  At Alderwood Water & Wastewater District “Lunches with the GM” provide this information to new hires. The presentation will explain the process, discuss the philosophy and talk about staff reactions to a program that has improved communication and understanding throughout the utility.

Networking Break
3:00 – 3:15 p.m.

Workforce Excellence: Overview of Succession Planning
3:15 – 3:45 p.m.

Diane Pitman
Director of Human Resources
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Like many water utilities, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s workforce demographics are rapidly changing. Half its workforce is age 50+ and 48 percent could retire today, so the utility’s continued success as a reliable water supplier depends largely on a sound succession plan. The Met plan is built upon an innovative organizational culture that emphasizes diversity, inclusion, culture, and equity.  It features three elements: bringing in great talent; providing expansive learning opportunities; and providing future leaders with specific skills and support to prepare them for tomorrow.

Creating a Culture of Organizational Excellence
3:45 – 4:15

Terri Runyan
Director of Performance Excellence
City of Fort Collins

Organizational success depends on an engaged workforce that benefits from meaningful work, vision clarity, the opportunity to learn and grow, and accountability for performance. In 2017, the City of Fort Collins Executive Leadership Team initiated an employee engagement tool called Core 34 to enhance their understanding of staff levels of engagement, satisfaction, and contribution. This session will show how Fort Collins uses Core 34 to measure, monitor, and respond to indicators of performance and how the tool provides an opportunity for leaders to adjust culture to sustain high performance.

Belle Mer
2 Goat Island
5:00 – 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Networking Continental Breakfast
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

General Session III
8:30 – 12:00

What’s in Your Water – and How to Communicate It
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Brian Steglitz
Water Treatment Services Manager
City of Ann Arbor Water Utility

As Michigan’s largest utility with elevated levels of PFAS in its source water, as well as recently detected 1,4 dioxane, the Ann Arbor Water Utility’s emerging contaminant challenges sent customer concerns about their drinking water to an all-time high. With the city on the cusp of the largest water system capital investment in its history, customer confidence in the utility’s ability to deliver safe water was more critical than ever. An aggressive and highly successful public engagement campaign was undertaken that included outreach through pop-up events, monthly water quality reports to customers, new branding for the water utility, and one-on-one meetings with elected officials to discuss water quality.

Innovation Models of Practice: Pipeline Rebuild
9:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Clifford Chan
Director of Operations and Maintenance
East Bay Municipal Utility District

David Katzev
Senior Civil Engineer
East Bay Municipal Utility District

Timothy Harris
Construction & Maintenance Superintendent
East Bay Municipal Utility District

Finding and developing efficient, cost-effective, and innovative solutions to address the aging pipeline infrastructure is critical for utilities to repair and replace their water pipelines. As part of the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Pipeline Rebuild effort, an innovation workflow cycle was developed to document current practices and pilot new technologies and methods to streamline its pipeline replacement program. Each pilot project starts with a value proposition and concludes with peer reviewed papers with metrics, findings, and recommendations. This business model highlights tools for collaboration, proven methods to innovate and document project findings, and effective processes for communicating and implementing change in a large water utility.

Buried No Longer – Managing Our Water Mains
9:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Joseph Duncan
General Manager
Champlain Water District

The integrity of drinking water infrastructure is at risk without a concerted effort to manage key assets and a significant investment in maintaining, rehabilitating, and replacing these assets. The Champlain Water District has developed a Pipe Integrity Program to assist in assessment of the condition of its transmission system. The program includes use of available GIS data to develop a weighted risk priority score for each asset, which the District uses to proactively monitor and inspect areas with high risk priority scores. The discussion will include both the program’s development and anticipated future refinement.

Networking Break
10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

Risk Management and Financial Implications of Climate Change and Extreme Events
10:15 – 11:30 a.m.

Paul Fuller
Allied Public Risk

Ted Chapman
Senior Director and Sector Leader
S&P Global Ratings

Usha Sharma
Denver Water

Climate change has fundamentally impacted the financial governance, insurance availability, and enterprise risk management of water utilities. During this facilitated panel discussion, speakers will discuss how climate change impacts are affecting the relationships between the municipal utility community, bond ratings agencies, and the insurance industry and why consideration of climate change is critical in a utility’s enterprise risk management system. Ample time will be available for additional discussion of audience questions.

From Here to HUB: The GLWA Journey
11:30 – 12:00 p.m.

Sue McCormick
Great Lakes Water Authority

A national conversation is occurring around HUB utilities – utilities with greater capacity providing expertise and resources to assist lower capacity utilities. Since it began operations in 2016, the Great Lakes Water Authority has moved toward becoming a regional HUB by: hosting more than 90 collaboration events each year with its member communities; providing these communities with training through its One Water Institute; providing real-time data for coordinated regional flow management; and providing water quality testing to meet expanded requirements. Up next are plans to host artificial intelligence platforms and research and innovation forums; expanding services to include joint procurements; and regional planning and asset management.


Conscious Capitalism: Doing Good While Doing Business as a Utility
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Larry Bingaman
President and CEO
South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority

The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority is guided by Conscious Capitalism, a growing movement among companies operating according to four key tenets: having a higher purpose; engaging stakeholders; having conscious, responsible, ethical leadership; and having a conscious culture. This has resulted in employees who are more conscious of the utility’s higher purpose to make life better for people by delivering water for life and how pursuing that purpose can benefit stakeholders and generate inclusive economic growth throughout the communities it serves. This presentation makes the case that since water utilities benefit society through the cost-effective provision of water, it is a logical progression for the sector to adopt the principles of Conscious Capitalism as an operating philosophy.

General Session IV
2:00– 4:00 p.m.

Accessible, Affordable and Equitable Water Service: WSSC’s story
2:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Crystal Knight-Lee
Customer Service Director
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission

Karyn A. Riley
Intergovernmental Relations Manager
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission

As conversations surrounding “water as a human right” grow, water utilities are being charged with designing and implementing policies and programs that ensure water equity and access. Water systems face increased operating and capital costs resulting in rate increases, so addressing affordability for customers requires a delicate balance between the fiscal interests of both the utility and the customer. This presentation will give insight on how WSSC is addressing the affordability challenge through comprehensive policy and program design and will describe its new rate structure that has resulted in the expansion of affordability programming to innovative new partnerships.

Networking Break
2:30 – 2:45 p.m.

Transforming Water Systems: Working at the Nexus of Water, Climate and Equity
2:45 – 4:00 p.m.

Jalonne L. White-Newsome
Senior Program Officer
Climate Resilient and Equitable Water Systems Initiative
Kresge Foundation

Julie Quigley
Director of Administration and Information Technology
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Mami Hara
General Manager and Chief Executive Officer
Seattle Public Utilities

A diverse set of perspectives is essential to help define water equity.  While considering this issue, the panel will also discuss why addressing climate change is a critical component of achieving water equity and how water leaders can intentionally address the issues of equity in their community. Speakers will highlight unique and innovative partnerships and practices that are working to build climate resilient communities by addressing urban flooding, and institutional and systemic barriers that inhibit transformation of urban water systems. AMWA members and other municipal leaders will participate, as well as NGO and community-based organizational representatives, to share their expertise and advice on how to work towards a transformative water system. 

Conference Closing
4:00 – 4:15

Steve Schneider
AMWA President
General Manager
Saint Paul Regional Water Services

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tour: Providence Water Treatment Plant and Scituate Reservoir
6:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

A continental breakfast, courtesy of TetraTech, will be available for tour participants in the Heritage Room beginning at 6:30 am. All tour participants should meet in the Conference Center area no later than 7:00 a.m. Following the tour the bus will make a stop at T.F. Green Airport at approximately 12:00 noon, and will return to Newport by 1:00 p.m.

Providence Water will host a tour of the utility’s 144 MGD treatment plant, which provides drinking water to more than 600,000 Rhode Islanders. Tour participants will also view the Scituate Reservoir, Rhode Island’s largest fresh waterbody. The reservoir has a capacity of nearly 40 billion gallons and is surrounded by 13,000 acres of forest owned by the utility.