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AWWA Holds Annual Water Infrastructure Conference

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Earlier this week, more than 700 water professionals convened in Atlanta to discuss water infrastructure, asset management, water loss, cyber security, emergency management, and innovation in the water industry.

Risk and resilience was one of the primary discussion topics, focusing on water utility preparedness related to Black Sky events, cybersecurity, and usage of EPA tools. Black Sky presentations (where there are severe and long term water and power outages over an extended period of time) emphasized utility personnel readiness and the development of critical, long term operational criteria. EPA described recent updates to WCIT, the Water Contaminant Information Tool, and mentioned that they are preparing to add data on PFOA, PFOS, and Legionella to the contaminants list. The cybersecurity discussion covered the importance of educating utility staff on potential threats, like ransomware, through continued training and exercises that help users prevent and identify malicious attempts to access their utility information.

Asset management was a major focus with much of the conversation centering on proactive management of water systems and leveraging big data to inform and enhance capital improvement programs. Discussion on new technology and the mountains of data that often come with advanced metering and real-time modeling questioned whether the benefit was worth the upfront investment and how systems can achieve the greatest return using data analytics. However, there was broad agreement that using real-time data and integrating information into operations-side work can help utilities make more informed decisions when balancing both infrastructure and customer needs.

AWWA expects to have copies of the presentation materials available within the next few weeks.