The Association's Board of Directors has met twice during the past two months. In December the Board met via video conference and approved a budget for 2018 (more on that topic below). The Board met in Savannah, Georgia, in mid-January. A summary of key points from these meetings is provided below.
Association President-Elect and other Elections
The American Water Works Association Board of Directors selected Jim Williams of Mishawaka, Indiana, as the Association's next president-elect. Two vice presidents and one director-at-large were also elected during the annual winter meeting. Jim Williams is currently the general manager at Peerless-Midwest, a Suez Company. Active in the Indiana Section, he has served as chair and director and currently sits on its Water Utility Council and Water for People Committee. Williams begins his role as president-elect in June at the conclusion of AWWA's ACE in Las Vegas.
The two vice presidents elected by the board are:
- Randy Moore, a member of the Missouri Section and a regular contributor to Opflow, AWWA's magazine for operators. Currently an Association service provider director-at-large, he is director of sales - agency development and industry affairs for Tnemec Co. in Kansas City, Mo.
- Theresa O'Grady, a member of the Illinois Section. O'Grady is a group manager of water resources at Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc. in Aurora, Ill. Governance.
The board had extensive discussions concerning the selection and election of Association-level officers. This was driven by recent challenges in obtaining qualified nominees for leadership positions. The board had extensive discussions of proposed processes. The board approved a process where a nominating committee would recruit and vet applicants for the President-Elect, Treasurer, Vice-President, and Director-at-Large officers, and submit a slate of at least one, and often multiple qualified candidates. The Board of Directors would then vote on these candidates.
As of early December, the association was experiencing revenues slightly higher than budgeted (2.3%) over budget and expenses slightly below budgeted expenses. There has been a net growth in both individual and utility members, growth in advertising revenue, and growth in publications revenue (especially for the new version of Standard Methods for Water and Wastewater Examination).
Hurricanes Maria's Impact on Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rico Section thanked AWWA for its immense support to the section on the island through donations and information. One of the examples of support provided was the donation of $1000 to purchase emergency water treatment and utility lights provided by the Nebraska Section.
Tracy Mehan, Executive Director, AWWA Governmental Affairs provided an update on the regulatory environment and the Farm Bill.
Although the Trump Administration has an executive order out requiring that for each new rule, two will be removed, there is progress on a new lead and cooper rule. It is scheduled to come out late this summer. Given the potential cost of lead service line removal, it is unclear if removal will be part of the revised rule. AWWA is recommending that utilities inventory their systems to identify the number of lead service lines.
The farm bill is reauthorized about every 5 years, and is currently undergoing reauthorization. To help build awareness of the connection between farm operations and drinking water, AWWA has created a whiteboard animation that illustrates how Farm Bill conservation programs, along with partnerships between the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA), water utilities and farmers can be key to protecting drinking water sources. The video is available on AWWA's YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPEdoWgc4Gg. The video points out how Congress can address nutrient runoff issues through the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.
An emerging issue in some parts of the country is water affordability for customers with low incomes, especially in high cost communities. The board discussed this issue and it is anticipated that AWWA will be developing guidance for utilities on this topic.
Other Association Highlights
Membership has been growing at a 1% rate during the past half-decade, and strong efforts are being made to enhance their student programs. As reported in a previous director's report, AWWA is part of the Lead Service Line Collaborative. New initiatives include moving AWWA's journals to a digital format and to have Wiley Publishers manage the AWWA Journals. The Water Equation philanthropy initiative continues to progress.
AWWA has started a veterans initiative. AWWA will oversee and manage the volunteer network. AWWA will triage the requests and forward them to the appropriate section volunteer. AWWA will provide training for the volunteer network. The tool kits will be finished by ACE18. They will include resources for veterans that explain the training needed to work in the water sector and how to connect with education programs and utilities. AWWA will manage the development and promotion of the tool kits.
The Nebraska Section AWWA is currently seeking volunteers to serve on the Veteran Network. Volunteers need to be able to communicate training/education/certification requirements and make personal connections to utilities and employers to help veterans get their foot in the door.
AWWA will provide training and resources to volunteers. A time commitment will vary depending on requests; most volunteers will spend less than 10 hours/year on this project. This volunteer opportunity can be 100% virtual. Volunteers are not required to meet in person with separating military personnel.
To volunteer for the Veterans Workforce Networking Initiative contact Chad Weikel, Manager of Education and Workforce, 303-347-6130, or Amy Brown, ETS Coordinator, 303-347-6189.