| Public health sparks water passion for AWWA president Jacangelo
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Public health sparks water passion for AWWA president Jacangelo

Joe JacangeloDr. Joseph Jacangelo – technical director, project manager, researcher, engineer, professor, author – this month begins his term as the 141st president of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

He brings more than 35 years of contributions to the water community, specializing in areas including emerging contaminants, water quality and treatment, water and wastewater disinfection, membrane technology, water reuse, and public health. 

His water journey began in the rain forest of Zaire, now known as the Republic of the Congo, where he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from college.

During his third year there, he was introduced to spring box construction for protection of local villagers’ water supplies.

“It was that experience, along with the fact that a substantial amount of the world’s disease burden is water-related, that ignited my passion for being able to work in an area that impacts so many others,” he said.

His next “wow moment” came when he first attended an AWWA annual conference as a second year doctoral student at the urging of his advisor. All the presentations, the exhibit hall, and the chance to go to a Disinfection Processes Committee meeting created a spark that stayed with him his entire career.

Once he “caught the AWWA bug,” Jacangelo was all in. He has served two terms as a board member, is a past chair of the Technical and Education Council and the International Council and participated in more than 25 of the Association’s various committees. He also is a past recipient of AWWA’s Volunteer of the Year and Golden Spigot awards as well as a co-author for two Best Paper awards. (Pictured above, Jacangelo at ACE22 Opening General Session.)

As a vice president and director of research at Stantec, Jacangelo also is an adjunct faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, from which he earned his Ph.D. in environmental health engineering. He has contributed to the completion of dozens of water and wastewater projects and published numerous peer-reviewed papers on membranes, disinfection and emerging contaminants. 

It’s fitting that his tenure coincides with the launch of AWWA’s ambitious, multi-year Water 2050 initiative to collectively visualize the future of water. He and many other forward-thinking AWWA leaders and volunteers will help chart a course for water sustainability and success, which Jacangelo describes as a call to action.

Joe Jacangelo and Chi Ho Sham at AWWA gavel passing ceremony at ACE22“We have between 7 and 8 billion people on the earth now, and by 2050 we will have more than 9 billion people on the planet,” he said. “This demographic incongruity is at the root of the continued depletion of our natural resources and the acceleration of climate change. It is incumbent upon all of us as a water community to provide a more perspicuous understanding of what the water landscape will look like in 2050 so we can better strategically plan for and assure a sustainable, resilient water future.”

Jacangelo also intends to continue the work of Dr. Chi Ho Sham, immediate past president, and Melissa Elliott, past president, around supporting diversity and inclusion, young professionals, and member value and engagement. (Pictured above, Jacangelo receives AWWA president gavel from Sham at ACE22.)

“The thing I value most about AWWA is our 50,000 members,” he said. “Our water community has remained resilient throughout the pandemic, having really come together to rally around efforts to ensure public health. We are a strong, vibrant organization. We are AWWA Strong.”