Emma Welsh thinks that the American Water Summit is going to reach Olympian heights.
How can I not mention the Olympics? I know you’re probably sick to death of hearing about them, but’s it’s all I’ve done for the last two weeks and I’m far too old to remember what I was up to before they started! Actually I will be quite relieved not to have to watch three hours of TV every night, but apart from that, what a fantastically all-absorbing experience it was. Who would have thought that I would become obsessed by watching tiny bendy women jump up and down on a narrow bar?
After watching all the events and discussing it all exhaustively with the kids, I feel like I have run a marathon myself. Most all-consuming events leave you feeling a bit wrung out, but hopefully in the case of our conferences – as with the Olympics – it’s in a good way.
The American Water Summit takes place in Chicago on 14 and 15 November, and looks set to be our biggest US conference yet. I’ve just taken a look at the agenda and it is shaping up very nicely. Within the theme of business models for the future, we take a look at the infrastructure development, technology innovation and finance models which can shape the future of the American water market. We investigate the latest and most innovative methods of delivering capital investment to the municipal water sector, and hear proposals for continued innovation. We assess the new technologies and business models which will have the biggest impact on utility operation. We consider how the use and management of, and disputes over shared freshwater resources can affect business interests, private property and water rights.
With speakers ranging from Barbara Bennett, the EPA’s chief financial officer, to Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, we present a host of the brightest voices within the US water industry.
One session that has particularly caught my fancy is entitled “selling water”. This addresses the tricky issues of politics and public perception. What does the water industry need to do to increase the visibility of water, and can we take a different approach towards marketing? What sort of relationship should we develop between customers and their water, and how can we educate all sides to give water its true value? Of course I’m bound to like the look of this session as marketing is close to my heart, but just imagine the likes of Don Draper from Mad Men presenting us with the campaign that could change the way we think about water for generations to come.
This year we also launch the American Water Awards, which will recognise and reward best practice throughout the US water sector. We are now accepting nominations for the following categories: Utility Performer of the Year, Partnership Performance of the Year, Technology Project of the Year, and Environ¬mental Project of the Year. In an exciting new format, shortlisted candidates will make a short presentation stating their case, and the audience will cast a live vote for the winner in each category. Trophies will be presented at our Gala Dinner. For further information about the American Water Summit, please go to www.americanwatersummit. com and to submit your nominations for the awards please visit www.americanwaterintel.com/american-water-awards/