Water Innovation 2017 Highlights Cutting-Edge Technology and Practices in the Water Sector

Attendees at the first ever water innovation forum event, Water Innovation 2017, listen to a panel of speakers talk about to bridge the gap from innovation to practice in the water sector. WEF photo/Renee Kayal.

Attendees at the first ever water innovation forum event, Water Innovation 2017, listen to a panel of speakers talk about to bridge the gap from innovation to practice in the water sector. WEF photo/Renee Kayal.

Innovation provides a key to survival for the water sector.

In March, the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), along with partners Imagine H2O (San Francisco) and the California Water Environment Association, held the first water innovation forum, Water Innovation 2017: Putting Ideas into Practice. During the WEF-member-only event, 190 registrants from 27 states, three Canadian provinces, and several other countries discussed how to move innovation in the water sector from theory into practice.

Sparking discussion and knowledge exchange

The agenda for the 2-day event included several panel presentations, networking lunches, and roundtable discussions that covered a wide range of topics, such as

  • putting operations and management into practice;
  • driving innovation within regulatory frameworks;
  • financing infrastructure at the Utility of the Future;
  • implementing innovation;
  • harnessing utility/university partnerships;
  • collaborating with technical, academic, and finance leaders;
  • implementing change; and
  • creating a water sector for the future.

Panelists were asked to discuss ways to empower current operations professionals to propel the utility of the future and to evolve from risk avoidance to risk management.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, as well as many other utilities including East Bay Municipal Utility District (Oakland, Calif.) and Clean Water Services (Hillsboro, Ore.), presented. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employees also spoke during the event.

Highlighting Imagine H2O innovations

The forum also featured a roundtable discussion from the private sector. During “Exploring the Future: Roundtable Discussions with Start Up Winners of the 2017 Imagine H2O Water Data Challenge,” WEF members had the opportunity to discuss technologies and their potential implementation with water sector entrepreneurs and technical experts. Entrepreneurs participating in the roundtable were all the Imagine H2O’s 2017 Water Data Cohort finalists, representing companies from various countries including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ethiopia, and Israel.

During the Water Innovation 2017 Imagine H2O Water Gala, these Imagine H2O companies were recognized. WEF members mingled and had the opportunity to network and collaborate with the venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, academics, and water professionals representing these startup companies. For more information about this event, read the WEF Highlights article, “Imagine H2O Shines a Light on Innovation at Water Gala 2017.”

LaShell Stratton-Childers, WEF Highlights

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