Industry Leaders Gather for ACE18 in Las Vegas

From information sessions to hydrant-assembly contests, the 137th American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition had something for everyone in the water industry

Industry Leaders Gather for ACE18 in Las Vegas

A team from Spotsylvania, Virginia, races to tap a pipe at a competition at ACE18.

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Last week, an estimated 12,000 water experts from around the world gathered for the 137th American Water Works Association (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE18) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Some of the highlights of the show were the Hydrant Hysteria competition and the Pipe Tapping Contest, which feature teams of utility workers racing to build hydrants and tap into cement-lined ductile iron pipes, respectively.

Workers from the city of Milwaukee participate in the Hydrant Hysteria competition to assemble a hydrant as quickly as possible
Workers from the city of Milwaukee participate in the Hydrant Hysteria competition to assemble a hydrant as quickly as possible

Beyond that, there was no shortage of information sessions on innovation and technology, along with networking events and career opportunities. Attendees heard from more than 900 presenters and were able to explore a massive exhibit floor featuring cutting-edge technologies. “Many water sector technologies we consider commonplace today were once innovative game-changers,” said AWWA President Brenda Lennox at the opening session. “It’s exciting to know that the next few days may cultivate revolutionary ideas that transform the future of water.”

The Innovation Lounge at ACE18 was a hot spot for informative presentations and sharing ideas in the water sector
The Innovation Lounge at ACE18 was a hot spot for informative presentations and sharing ideas in the water sector

ACE18’s list of professional learning tracks included Water Utility Management and Leadership; Small Systems Management & Operations; Financing, Rates and Affordability; Water Policy & Regulatory Actions; Asset Management; Infrastructure Design, Management and Project Delivery; Preparedness, Resilience and Cybersecurity; Water Use Efficiency Practices; Water Resource Management and Potable Reuse; Water Quality Challenges; Advances in Water Treatment; Distribution System Management and Operations, Wastewater and Stormwater Management; Operator Forum, and Poster Sessions.

“The members of AWWA really do work along the full spectrum of water, and the ACE18 professional tracks reflect that,” says Barb Martin, AWWA director of engineering and technical services. “It takes a variety of roles within overlapping disciplines to assure safe and reliable water service and protect environmental water quality, so we strive to produce a program that helps every single attendee do his or her important work better.”

Virtual reality made an appearance in a few different booths at this year's show
Virtual reality made an appearance in a few different booths at this year's show

Another centerpiece of the conference was the Best of the Best Tap Water Taste Test, in which the winners of regional water-tasting competitions gathered before a panel of expert judges to find out who had the best tasting water in North America. The winner was the Alderwood Water and Wastewater District of Lynnwood, Washington. Second place went to the city of Sherbrooke, Quebec, while third place went to the city of Moline, Illinois.

Thanks to all those who stopped by to visit us at the COLE Publishing booth during our time at the show. If we missed you at ACE and you’d like to get in touch to share a story idea, email anthony.drew@colepublishing.com.



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