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Taking the 'No' Out of Innovation
by Vanessa Leiby
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Interview with WWEMA Executive Director Vanessa Leiby
June 10, 2014
WWEMA serves as the voice of water and wastewater solution providers. As a member-driven organization, it is made up of many of the most prominent and influential companies in the industry, who are working together to advance the interests of their individual businesses as well as the water industry as a whole.
WWEMA NEWS AND UPDATES
WWEMA Voices Opposition to WRRDA 'Buy American' Restrictions
WWEMA Executive Director Vanessa Leiby on May 16 sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee expressing the association's adamant opposition to the American Iron and Steel language included in the proposed Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).
While WWEMA applauds the bill's overall intent to support improvements to the nation's water infrastructure, the inclusion of trade-restrictive American Iron and Steel language "will negate many of the benefits, increase project costs, and ultimately hurt many U.S. businesses," the letter stated.
Read the full text of the letter.
2014 F&CA Council Puts Negotiation Skills to the Test
The WWEMA 2014 Finance & Contract Administration Council, May 8-9 in Indianapolis, Indiana, brought together 43 industry members to discuss challenges and solutions on everything from bidding, to contract terms, to ethics and internal controls, to collections. This year's event built upon last year's session with a role-playing exercise that tested attendees' negotiation skills in a buyer/seller scenario.
Post-event evaluation results indicate attendees found the event and the role-playing session extremely valuable and call for expansion of that exercise in 2015.
WWEMA Washington Forum
Want to know what happened at the WWEMA 41st Washington Forum? Check it out:
WWEMA Provides 'Buy American' Position Statement to EPA
WWEMA on February 14 sent the Environmental Protection Agency the WWEMA Position on "Iron and Steel" Language in FY-14 Appropriations Bill for Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds (SRFs).
Provided at the request of EPA, the statement iterates WWEMA's opposition to "Buy American" restrictions on funding and urges the agency to apply an extremely limited interpretation of the restrictions and to ensure that requirements for compliance and applications for waivers to the law be as streamlined and as simple as possible.
WWEMA, Rep. Pascrell Lead Webinar on PABs
Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and WWEMA Executive Director Vanessa Leiby co-presented a webinar on January 29 titled Funding Your Municipal Drinking Water and Wastewater Projects. The focus of the webinar, which was attended by more than 190 water and wastewater utilities and other stakeholders, was to discuss upcoming legislation being introduced by Rep. Pascrell to eliminate the volume cap on private activity bonds (PABs) for drinking water and wastewater systems.
The original legislation on PABs was introduced in the 112th Congress as the "Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act of 2011" and is slated to be reintroduced in this Congress in the next three weeks. WWEMA is working closely with the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Coalition to support the legislation.
The goal of the webinar was to inform drinking water and wastewater systems about the legislation and urge them to provide support for passage of the bill. The webinar was organized by WWEMA member Environment One Corporation in conjunction with Water Infrastructure Management (UIM) Journal. WWEMA members and all those who are concerned with the state of the nation's water infrastructure are encouraged to review the presentation and submit letters of support to their Congressional delegations.
WWEMA Chairman Addresses Conference in India
WWEMA Chairman Chuck Powers on January 24 presented a one-hour session on the "Global State of the Water and Wastewater Industry" at a forum as part of the fifth edition of the National Conference on Pumps in Coimbatore, India. Organized by the Southern India Engineering Manufacturers' Association and the Indian Pump Manufacturers Association, the event was attended by end users, manufacturers, consultants, and engineering firms. The presentation offered an overview of both the U.S. and global markets, including challenges, drivers, general industry trends, and technology trends. Coverage of the presentation appeared on page 2 of the January 25 edition of The Hindu, one of India's most widely read English-language newspapers.
WWEMA Elects 2014 Officers and Board
The WWEMA membership elected new officers and directors on November 15, 2013, at its 105th Annual Meeting in Ponte Vedra, Florida. The WWEMA 2014 Executive Committee comprises:
- Chairman: Chuck Powers, Director, Global Water Resource Industry & Product Management, Flowserve Corporation (Taneytown, MD)
- Chairman-Elect: Frank Rebori, President, Smith & Loveless Inc. (Lenexa, KS)
- Vice Chairman: Ron Port, Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, SPX Corporation (Charlotte, NC)
- Treasurer: Tammy Bernier, President, Duperon Corporation (Saginaw, MI)
- Immediate Past Chairman: Deborah LaVelle, Owner, Bestt Consulting LLC (Rockton, IL)
- Secretary: Vanessa Leiby, Executive Director, WWEMA (Washington, D.C.)
- Jack Adams, Director, Calgon Carbon Corporation (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Vince Baldasare, Sales Manager, The Gorman-Rupp Company (Mansfield, OH)
- Anthony Dusovic, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Ozonia North America (Leonia, NJ)
- Fritz Egger, Director-Asia Pacific, JWC Environmental (Costa Mesa, CA)
- Michelle McNish, President, E & I Corporation (Westerville, OH)
WWEMA Names New Executive Director
WWEMA has named Vanessa Leiby to serve as executive director of the association, effective January 1, 2014. Leiby succeeds President Dawn Champney, who will retire December 31.
"Vanessa has a great deal of experience in the water industry and association management," said WWEMA Chairman Deb LaVelle. "What's more, throughout her career she has demonstrated a commitment to WWEMA's ideals and many of its advocacy positions. Our Board of Directors feels confident that Vanessa will lead the association on a path of continued success."
Leiby has more than 30 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry and has extensive experience in association management, having served as executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) from 1991 to 2003. Currently she is a principal for The Cadmus Group, where she provides support to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water on a wide range of projects related to water and energy efficiency, source water protection, and regulation development and implementation.
Prior to her positions at The Cadmus Group and ASDWA, Leiby worked from 1989 to 1991 as an environmental scientist at Wade Miller Associates and from 1987 to 1989 as an air-water quality scientist for the Ohio EPA state drinking water program. She holds a bachelor's of science in zoology, with a concentration in aquatic ecology, and a master's of science in zoology, with a concentration in aquatic toxicology, from The Ohio State University.
WWEMA Annual Meeting: A Focus on Funding
Water and wastewater equipment manufacturing company executives and manufacturers' representatives gathered at the WWEMA Annual Meeting November 14-16 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, to hear from a variety of experts on the topic that is keeping everyone in the industry up at night: funding.
The event included insights on the economy and various funding proposals and models from John de Yonge of Ernst & Young's Cleantech Center, Tracy Mehan of The Cadmus Group, and Sean Snaith of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness.
Additional speakers examined topics such as new technologies (Claudio Ternieden, Water Environment Federation); water reuse and desalination (Wade Miller, WateReuse Association); the Water Resource Utility of the Future (Ken Kirk, National Association of Clean Water Agencies); and current trends and concerns as identified by the WWEMA Presidents Council (Ron Duecker, JWC Environmental).
During the Chairman's Awards Dinner, the association honored JWC Environmental as recipient of this year's James C. Morriss Member Achievement Award for its work on behalf of WWEMA and the industry. Pictured above are: Past award winner Larry Scully; WWEMA President Dawn Kristof Champney; award presenter Ron Collins; JWC Environmental President Ron Duecker; past award winners Tom Pokorsky, Tom Mills, Brian Harrell, and Kent Troup; and WWEMA Chairman Deb LaVelle.
F&CA Council Participants Share Real-World Struggles, Successes
The WWEMA 2013 Finance & Contract Administration Council, September 12-13 in Indianapolis, Indiana, brought together 45 industry members to examine common challenges in contract negotiation and execution.
This year's format was highly interactive, with an extra half-day built into the program to allow attendees to share their real-world experiences related to topics such as contract negotiations, insurance and indemnity, surety bonds, and more. Post-event evaluation results indicate that the expanded format offered increased value for attendees and that they are eager to hold a Council again in 2014.
WWEMA Leadership Meets with Chairman of Ways & Means
WWEMA President Dawn Kristof Champney (left) and board member Tammy Bernier, president of Duperon Corporation (center), met with House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp on July 31 to discuss private activity bond legislation for water and wastewater projects and Buy American proposals that place U.S. manufacturers at risk in their export efforts.
WWEMA President Dawn Kristof Champney Announces Retirement
Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association President Dawn Kristof Champney has announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2013. The WWEMA Executive Committee has accepted her letter of resignation and has put into place the association's "President Succession Plan Policy."
Champney has served as WWEMA president since 1984, and was a member of the WWEMA staff in other capacities from 1976-1979 and 1981-1984.
"This was not an easy decision to reach, but I have decided the time is right for me to retire and begin my next journey in life knowing that WWEMA is in capable hands with a talented staff and a stellar leadership team ready to guide it successfully into the future," Champney said.
In her announcement to the membership, WWEMA Chairman Deb LaVelle wrote: "We will miss her enthusiasm and the passion she brought to the position as President.... We shall be forever grateful for Dawn's leadership, vision, and abilities to influence. As we move forward, WWEMA will continue its proud 105-year history, which offers great promise for continued success."
The association leadership is forming a selection committee to appoint Champney's successor. "I am confident we will be successful in finding a successor with experience, passion, and the ability to influence Capitol Hill as well as move the association forward successfully," LaVelle said.
During Champney's tenure as president, WWEMA has achieved many successes on behalf of water and wastewater equipment providers, including the elimination of restrictive standards governing the use of certain products in water and wastewater plants; the removal of onerous terms and conditions in municipal procurement contracts; the inclusion of a wide range of water and wastewater products slated for tariff reductions in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade agreement; the creation of a captive products liability insurance program at a time when water and wastewater process equipment manufacturers were being denied coverage; and the issuance of environmental regulations that recognize the capabilities of its members' technologies.
AWWA Technical Session Explores Innovation in Water Technology
On June 10, WWEMA participated in "Overcoming Challenges to Innovation in the Water Industry," a three-hour technical session at the American Water Works Association's ACE13 Convention.
The session drew more than 70 industry professionals as panelists explored ways that manufacturers, public and private utilities, academia, and other interested entities can work together to eliminate the barriers to innovation within the water industry.
At the conclusion of the session, it was announced that the AWWA's Manufacturers Associates Council has formed five subcommittees to address the five top challenges identified:
* the risk-averse nature of the water sector
* low economic value placed on water (true cost of water)
* "or equal" bidding/procurement requirements
* complicated regulatory requirements
* trade restrictions/barriers
The session was moderated by Randy Moore, Utility Service Group. Panelists included (shown left to right): WWEMA Board Member Mike Dimitriou, WRT; Brent Fewell, United Water; Sally Gutierrez, EPA Office of Research and Development; Jim Taft, Association of State Drinking Water Administrators; and WWEMA Member Ralph Franco, Calgon Carbon Corporation. Also presenting was Peter Fiske, PAX Water Technologies (not pictured).
Coalition of 15 Groups Urges Congress to Oppose 'Buy American'
WWEMA, along with 14 groups ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Taxpayers Union to the National Association of Water Companies, on June 5 sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Congress urging them to oppose legislation that would impose domestic content rules on funding for the nation's much-needed infrastructure projects.
"Such policies are inherently flawed and counter-productive to the economic welfare of U.S. producers and consumers alike," the letter stated. It pointed to numerous problems with "Buy American" measures: They increase project costs; they place unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens on local governments, often resulting in the postponement of vital infrastructure projects; they limit access to the best available technologies, even among U.S. suppliers, who often rely on global supply chains; they stifle innovation as companies shy away from sourcing the best production materials; and they risk leading to retaliatory measures in which other countries impose similar restrictions on imports of U.S. goods and services.
"Our nation's water supply, delivery, and treatment systems are critical to public health, to the economy, to the environment, and to national security," said WWEMA President Dawn Champney. "Nowhere is it more important for us to find the best and most cost-effective technologies to address our infrastructure needs."
Read the full text of the letter.
FWQA Honors Students with Scholarships, Science Fair Awards
The Federal Water Quality Association on May 23 held its 21st Annual National Capital Environmental Scholarship Program Awards Luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., providing four metro area high school seniors with $2,000 scholarships (renewable each year) and honoring 21 winners of the Senior and Junior High Metropolitan Regional Science Fair Awards.
Keynote Speaker Michael Deane (above), executive director of the National Association of Water Companies, discussed the water-related challenges facing the nation today. "...I encourage you to take what brings you here today -- your curiosity, your discipline, your intellect -- and help us meet these new challenges head-on," Deane said. "There is nothing that touches as much of our lives and our communities and our world as water. So there is no career that will provide you as much opportunity to make an impact as working in water."
WWEMA is a sponsor of the scholarship program, and WWEMA Research Assistant Sharon Nye served as chair of the 2013 Scholarship Committee and as one of the 2013 Science Fair judges.
WWEMA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Team Up to Oppose 'Buy American' Provision
WWEMA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on May 10 sent a letter to each member of the U.S. Senate opposing a potential "Buy American" provision to the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (S. 601). Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is expected to offer an amendment next week imposing "Buy American" restrictions on the water projects authorized by the act.
The letter argues that, "Under the guise of creating U.S. jobs and promoting U.S. industry, this protectionist measure could have the opposite effect by reducing competition, increasing project costs, and cutting U.S. exports of goods and services to countries that emulate U.S. policy."
Read the full text of the letter.
40th Washington Forum Examines Question: 'Is This the New Norm?'
With a mix of presentations on legislative, regulatory, and policy issues as well as market intelligence and opportunities, WWEMA's 40th Washington Forum offered attendees valuable insights to guide their businesses and provide a competitive advantage in today's tough market place.
Just a few of the highlights:
* Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ, pictured below) offered an impassioned plea for increased national attention to water and wastewater infrastructure. Pascrell announced plans to reintroduce legislation to fund water infrastructure projects through private activity bonds.
* A panel of utility directors shared their experiences, "pain points," and advice for manufacturers. Among their pet peeves when evaluating proposals: Manufacturers who waste their time talking about what their competitors can't do rather than explaining what their own products can do.
* David Asiello of the Department of Defense helped attendees better understand the department's labyrinthine procurement practices. Asiello said the DoD understands acutely the value of water as numerous servicemen and women have lost their lives during water deliveries to troops in arid regions.
Attending the Washington Forum were 81 WWEMA members, five non-member manufacturers, 21 speakers and several guests. Coverage of several of the sessions can be found at the Water Online website here, here and here.
WWEMA, Water & Wastes Digest Offer 2013 Scholarship
Applications are now available for the scholarship program sponsored by Water & Wastes Digest, awarding $1,000 to a student seeking a career in a water- or wastewater-related field. Applicants must have a parent employed by a WWEMA-member company. The deadline for 2013 applications is October 18. Details are available through WWD.
WWEMA/USWA Innovation Roundtable Draws Industry Leaders
More than 60 policy makers, regulators, manufacturers and others gathered in Washington, D.C., on March 4 for a first-of-its-kind roundtable discussion on "Innovating for Water's Future," co-sponsored by WWEMA and the U.S. Water Alliance.
Download a summary of the discussion here.
"As budget numbers go from bad to ugly, there's real beauty in the water innovations that spring from public-private partnerships," said USWA President Ben Grumbles. "We have common ground on the urgent need to innovate and collaborate now to sustain water and invest in America's future."
"It is imperative that our industry join together to address the barriers to innovation," added WWEMA President Dawn Kristof Champney. "Factors such as the 'low bid' mentality, inadequate reward systems for risk taking, and long payback periods prevent us from embracing technologies that can better protect and preserve our water environment."
The event began with a discussion on "Framing the Needs and Challenges," with panelists WWEMA Chairman Deb Lavelle; Rich Anderson, senior advisor for the U.S. Conference of Mayors; and Robert Steidel, director of Public Utilities for the City of Richmond (Virginia).
The next panel spoke on "Leveraging Existing and Exploring New Opportunities" and included Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Water; Suzanne van Drunick and Sally Gutierrez, both from the EPA Office of Research and Development; Alex Dunn, executive director and general counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators; and Jim Taft, executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators.
It concluded with a facilitated discussion among all participants, led by Brent Fewell, vice president, environmental compliance, United Water, and chairman of the U.S. Water Alliance's Business Advisory Council.
FWQA Luncheon Offers Insights into Sandy Relief Efforts
The Federal Water Quality Association's February 28 luncheon offered an insider's look at the federal government's response to Hurricane Sandy and the recovery efforts of the local utilities in restoring their water and wastewater facilities.
Speakers Rich Weisman and David Goldbloom-Helzner of the EPA Office of Water shared some of the successes and challenges posed during and after the storm, including:
- The success of WARN (the Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network), a voluntary support network of utilities in which utilities that were not affected by the storm came to the assistance of those that were, providing generators and other types of assistance.
- The use of the recently developed Fed FUND (Federal Funding for Utilities in National Disasters), a web-based tool providing information, tips and example applications for utilities to apply for federal disaster funding.
- The difficulties faced in determining how to allocate the $600 million in State Revolving Funds allocated to the storm relief. The funds are intended to target projects that will build resiliency and/or reduce flood risk, but it has been a challenge to define "resiliency."
- The challenge of balancing the desire of some communities to return to normal operations as quickly as possible vs. the desire to take the time and planning needed to create effective, long-term solutions.
Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 17402
Washington, D.C. 20041
Tel: 703.444.1777 Fax: 703.444.1779