AWWA Articles

American Water Works Association cancels ACE20 in Orlando to protect public health

(DENVER) – To protect public health during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) today announced the cancellation of its Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE20), previously scheduled for June 14-17 in Orlando, Fla.

In a letter to members, AWWA President Jim Williams and CEO David LaFrance said that leading public health authorities are advising against any non-essential travel and encouraging social distancing practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. AWWA’s first core principle is to protect public health, the letter noted, and “it is hard to imagine a scenario in which we could move forward with full confidence.”

Details on refunds, hotel and airline cancellations, exhibit and sponsor questions and other related information can be found on the ACE website.

“This was a very difficult decision, and we’re especially sad for all the volunteers, presenters, exhibitors, sponsors and others who put in so much work to make ACE20 a success,” Williams said. “We are so grateful for their efforts. But after a rigorous analysis of the coronavirus situation and a good deal of discussion, we determined that canceling was best way to be true to our mission.”

The letter stated that AWWA is exploring new and innovative ways for water professionals to share their critical knowledge. These new opportunities will be announced in the coming weeks.

“AWWA has canceled ACE only one other time in its 139-year history – in 1945, during World War II,” LaFrance said. “Clearly, this was not an easy decision to make, but it is the right decision. We will now focus our efforts on finding the best ways to assure that critical water knowledge and innovative technologies are shared in new ways. We’re excited to collaborate with all our members to make that happen.”

Williams noted that ACE21, June 13-16, in San Diego, Calif., will mark the Association’s 140th anniversary. He pointed out that water professionals are working around the clock to keep service reliable during the pandemic, when access to water for hand-washing is particularly important.

“We want to thank you all again for your tremendous spirit of self-sacrifice throughout this pandemic,” Williams said in the letter. “There is not a finer collection of people than water professionals. The quiet, heroic work you are accomplishing on behalf of your communities is literally saving lives.”

AWWA is offering resources to assist utilities with dealing with the challenges that arise during the pandemic at awwa.org/coronavirus.


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Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 51,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.


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