From WaterPro to Waterworks: Leaders of Rural Water

One of my favorite times of the year rolls around mid-September. And no, it's not the much-awaited arrival of fall (which, by the way, IS the best season).

It's the time when I’m given the opportunity to reunite with friends and colleagues at the annual NRWA’s WaterPro Conference. This gathering draws in folks from the beaches of Hawai’i to the terrains of Alaska. And yes, some even bring along a sprinkle of that Georgia & Alabama Southern charm.

And what a whirlwind of a week it was! I delved deep into conversations with state association directors, exploring the pressing challenges their members grapple with, focusing especially on those concerning utility operations and water quality objectives.

A few key takeaways I had from these conversations:

The Forever Chemicals Challenge:

With the EPA rolling out new proposed regulations on 'forever chemicals' like PFAS and PFOA, there's palpable concern in the air. Many utilities, aware they might exceed the new trigger level limits, are proactively adjusting their treatment processes to tackle this challenge head-on.

The Silver Tsunami:

Utilities nationwide are gearing up for the 'silver tsunami' – a term capturing the looming reality of upwards of 60% of utility staff set to retire by the 2030s. This impending shift is a significant concern for many, one that isn't just about numbers, but also about the invaluable expertise, certifications, and hands-on experience that these professionals take with them.

Embracing Technology:

It's heartening to see the water industry's rapid tech adoption. The adage that "the water industry is 10 years behind other sectors" might just be moving toward a thing of the past. Our on-the-ground heroes, ensuring every drop of water from source to tap is safe, are embracing innovative solutions to address challenges.

As I look reflect on the week, it's evident that the water industry is at a turning point, with utilities facing challenges that demand both immediate action and long-term strategy. Yet, amidst these challenges, the industry's resilience and adaptability is still shining through. As we move forward, these conversations and insights from WaterPro serve as a reminder of the importance of the advancement, industry tenacity, and collaboration to better shape a brighter future for the water industry. Which funnily enough, line up right alongside the Fontus Blue Core Values.

More on those down the road 🙂

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