| 2021: Extreme weather, cybersecurity, infrastructure funding, and more
AWWA Articles

2021: Extreme weather, cybersecurity, infrastructure funding, and more

With 2021 almost in the books, it’s worth celebrating that water professionals around the world persevered through challenges and change to ensure that water and wastewater services were “there when you need it.”

AWWA Connections Highlights 2021Connections – the newsletter for members of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) -- is one way the Association helps water professionals stay informed and united. Below are some highlights from the Connections articles delivered to you in 2021.

What’s up with the weather? A mid-February arctic blast in the southwestern United States caused havoc, Puerto Rico is still rebuilding from destructive hurricanes, and who can forget the increasingly intense California wildfires? On top of that, a prolonged megadrought prompted the first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River Basin. To help utilities manage water supplies, a new website shares information about streamflow, snowpack and more. Tucson Water seems to have a handle on it.

Lock the door behind you: The risk of cyber-attacks hit home in February with the hack of a Florida water system. There’s a great deal of cybersecurity work to be done to protect water and wastewater systems, according to a Water Sector Coordinating Council survey. To determine the best course of action, AWWA commissioned a report that looks at ways to boost cybersecurity for U.S. water and wastewater systems. Let’s all be aware that a Grinch lurks among us.

Some dreams do come true: At this April’s virtual “Water Matters! Fly-In,” AWWA delegates urged U.S. senators and representatives to increase funding for infrastructure, lead service line removal and PFAS. Lo and behold, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law in November to check these off the list. In a separate action, EPA unveiled its national strategic roadmap to confront PFAS. AWWA’s June Congressional testimony on PFAS was words worth hearing.

Rebooting the LCR: In early 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delayed enforcing its revised Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to allow the new Biden Administration to take a look-see. Earlier this month, the EPA announced it was finalizing the revisions as part of a broader action plan to replace lead pipes and remediate lead paint. Many water systems are already stepping up to the challenge, like Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Follow the leader: AWWA elected its incoming board officers in January, including Joseph Jacangelo as incoming president elect. The gavel was passed by outgoing president Melissa Elliott at the conclusion of ACE21 All Virtual, and Chi Ho Sham took the next step along his path from Hong Kong to become AWWA president. He also took some big steps to protect source water.

Shining the spotlight: AWWA members are the top experts in the water sector and their contributions drive its success. Nice to highlight you, Brent Alspach, Steve Bell, Nicole Brown, Andrea Cheng, Uzi Daniel, Sergio Escalante, Adam Gould, Hank Naughton, Joseph Goodwill, Indra Maharjan, David Miller, Kay Sanborn, Charlie Ulloa, Charlie Vein, Cindy Weng, Amy Winchester and Erin Young. And let’s not forget AWWA’s inaugural class of “5 Under 35” (looking at you Jeff Blakely, Ji Im, Amanda Jones, John Logan and Bob Parks).

Thank you for being an AWWA member. We wish you much success and continued optimism in 2022!