(DENVER) -- More than 12,000 water professionals gathered today at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver to explore innovative solutions for water challenges during the 138th American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE19). This year’s theme is “Innovating the Future of Water”. Beginning with this morning’s packed opening general session and concluding Wednesday evening, attendees will hear from more than 500 presenters and explore a massive exhibit floor featuring the latest industry technology at the conference. “Collectively, we are leading the water industry in the development of water policy in areas such as control of contaminants, source water protection, infrastructure financing and customer affordability,” said AWWA President David Rager, who spoke at the opening session. Auden Schendler, senior vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, delivered the keynote address about climate change at the opening general session. “The work you’re doing is the physical manifestation of loving your neighbor,” said Schendler. “We face catastrophe, but what we really face is losing what we love and what makes us thrive.” ACE19 features 16 tracks with sessions such as water quality challenges, utility security and resilience, asset management, innovation and technology, managing lead in distribution system and legal issues. New to this year’s program are sessions focusing on potable reuse and smart water utilities. “Presentations from water sector experts and thought leaders provide insights on how to address the sector’s toughest challenges,” said Barb Martin, AWWA’s director of engineering and technical services. “Attendees will not want to miss professional sessions covering critical water quality contaminants, such as PFAS and lead, key utility management topics, and water reuse, as well as an engaging and interactive Innovation Lounge program. It’s truly a Total Water Solutions conference.” Tuesday’s events include the Water Industry Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. with a keynote address from Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University, and Josh Miller, director of Generation Z Studies at XYZ University. Later on Tuesday is the Best of the Best Water Taste Test (3:30 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall), where water utilities compete to determine who has the best-tasting water. Wednesday’s events include the Pipe Tapping Competition Finals from 10:35 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at which utility teams race to tap into a cement-lined ductile iron pipe; facility tours around the metro Denver area, including Denver Water’s redeveloped operations complex; and the 11:15 a.m. H2Open Forum, focusing on source water protection, at which participants will explore key questions, challenges and solutions for source water protection with thought leaders in utilities and engage in dialogue on solutions. A complete schedule is available online . # # # 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.