| A path to Water 2050 begins at ACE22
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A path to Water 2050 begins at ACE22

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) today kicked off its Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE22) in San Antonio, Texas, by launching a multi-year initiative to visualize the future of water and chart a course for sustainability and success.

ACE22 launching Water 2050During an opening session that also featured NASA scientist Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, whose team discovered water on Mars, AWWA President Chi Ho Sham introduced Water 2050 as a significant and collaborative effort that will be discussed throughout ACE22 and beyond.

More than 8,000 water professionals are gathered at ACE22 through Wednesday to seek out solutions to today’s most pressing water challenges. The conference features 16 professional learning tracks and 80 sessions, including 26 sessions that will be streamed virtually, and several competitions. An exposition in the Henry B. González Convention Center showcases more than 360 water technology providers and innovators.

Water 2050 video interview participantsToday’s opening session began with a Water 2050 video titled “The Future We Create,” featuring young water professionals reflecting on the future of water and the challenges ahead. “As members of the water sector, we must continue to evolve and think of innovative ideas and solutions and continue to be advocates for our water resources around the world,” observes Holly Mettlen, a project engineer with Black & Veatch in South Carolina and one of many young professionals in the video. (Pictured left, screenshot of video participants.)

AWWA President Chi Ho Sham reflected on his upbringing in Hong Kong, where safe water service was unreliable, and urged attendees to open the door to people from all backgrounds to opportunities to succeed in water. “We need to stay creative in our work. Our changing world demands it,” he said. 

Water 2050 is a theme throughout ACE22. Attendees can participate directly in the initiative at the AWWA Pavilion in the exposition hall, where an artist is developing sketches in real time reflecting Water 2050 insights gathered from the crowd. The AWWA Board of Directors held a special session devoted to the project just prior to the conference. At 11:15 a.m. Central Time on June 15, The Last Drop closing keynote features a Water 2050 panel discussion with two members of the project advisory team – Andy Richardson from Greeley and Hansen and Jennifer Sara from The World Bank – and Colby Pellegrino from Las Vegas Valley Water.

LaFrance, who is hosting the panel discussion, said Water 2050 will only fulfill its potential with engagement from many diverse voices.

“Each and every AWWA member has a unique perspective to offer,” he said. “For some of us, that may mean participating in a discussion at an AWWA event or a section activity. For others, it may mean participating in a survey. Still others may pen articles for AWWA publications, observing how water may be affected by a particular driver. There will be many other ways to help formulate and refine this vision.”

A signature element of Water 2050 is a series of five think tanks where participants will examine water through the prism of one of five drivers: sustainability, technology, economics, governance and social/demographics. The first of the think tanks is set for September. It will focus on the sustainability driver and will be hosted appropriately in water-stressed Las Vegas. Each think tank will generate a report with recommendations for a strong and sustainable water future.