By Michaela Bogosh, P.E., ENV SP, CDM Smith
The 2019 Joint New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) and New England Water Waters Association (NEWWA) Young Professionals (YP) Summit took place for the third consecutive year during NEWEA’s Annual Conference. Our vision for this joint event, which has been co-hosted by NEWEA and NEWWAs’ YP Committees for the last two years, is to provide a program that benefits and provides insight into new and interesting topics for YPs in both organizations. With over 100 people in attendance, this was the largest summit yet. Using feedback the planning committee received from the previous year’s summit, the 2019 event included both technical and non-technical topics. This year’s summit themes focused on networking, political advocacy and technical development. The summit began with several rounds of “speed networking”, a tactic that has worked well for the NEWWA YP committee at the start of many events. Speed networking gives attendees a chance to meet many more peers than those just sitting at their tables and is a great ice-breaker to help kick off the day.
The morning portion of the summit consisted of a panel discussion including elected government officials and water advocates speaking on how they advocate for the water and wastewater industries in their roles. The panel discussion was moderated by Stephen Estes-Smargiassi of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Panelists included State Rep. Carolyn Dykema (MA-D), State Senator Jamie Eldridge (MA-D), Steve Dye of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Melissa Biggs of Depino, Nunez, & Biggs. The panelists provided great insight into how they support environmental related legislation and how YPs can get involved and stay informed.
Prior to lunch, the NEWEA Government Affairs Committee provided an overview of the events included in the National Water Policy Fly-In each year. The Fly-In, part of Water Week, is the largest national policy event for water professionals to advocate on behalf of clean water utilities. Over the lunch hour, the summit attendees heard presentations from both the NEWEA and NEWWA YP chairs, Colin O’Brien and Will Walkup. Both chairs presented on the importance of the YP committees and the role they serve within each of their organizations. They also provided a summary of recent and upcoming events.
Following lunch, attendees had the opportunity to choose from two technical workshops, one involved innovation and the other highlighted emerging contaminants.
Technical Session 1 was focused on Innovation. Presenters during this session included Marcus Gay with the New England Water Innovation Network (NEWIN), Chi Ho Sham with the Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG), and Howard Carter with the City of Saco, ME. Marcus Gay began the session by discussing the process of water innovation, the challenges our industry faces with innovation and the Hot Themes currently in the innovation market including smart water, infrastructure management and water quality. Next, Chi Ho Sham discussed the work that AWWA is doing to encourage innovation, including their Innovation Initiative. To close out the session, Howard Carter discussed the work NEWEA is doing in relation to innovation, including their newly established Innovation Task Force. A video of Howard’s full presentation is available on NEWEA’s YouTube channel.