Marana Water News: Professional Development - AZWater Conference 2016

A few weeks ago a few staff members from Marana Water attended the annual AZ Water conference in Glendale, AZ. This was the 89th Annual conference for those in the water profession in Arizona to come together to share ideas and experiences.

AZ Water was founded in 1928 and is an educational organization focusing on water/wastewater professional development, and "enhancing and protecting Arizona's water environment." It also is connected to two large national organizations, the American Water Works Association and the Water Environmental Federation. These organizations are dedicated to providing opportunities for water professionals to gain knowledge and insight on the industry.

There were six employees who attended the conference. Some who had been many times, and two that were first-time attendees. Our attendees were all levels of staff and areas of expertise. The Water Director and Water Resources Coordinator attended as well as Water Operator and Wastewater Operator. Every attendee said the networking with other departments and water professionals was a highlight of the conference. From the Wastewater division, Jacob said, "It was great to discuss issues with other operators that have many years in the industry and are willing to share their knowledge." Water Director John also said, "I look forward to meeting with other water and wastewater leaders throughout the state..learning from experiences that other communities have been or are facing."

Another important part of this conference is the educational components. There were sessions this year on Flint Water, wastewater treatment, energy management, new technology, utility management, construction of water projects, and many more. These sessions provide the continuing education requirements for keeping up certifications. Water Superintendent Paul said his most valuable sessions were the ones about the distribution system. In these classes he learned about preventive maintenance programs, water quality, asset management, and managing a workforce. Fred from the Water division said he learned a lot from the session on main breaks, valve assessment, and creating water system maps.

Another highlight for our attendees was the Keynote address by Kathy Ferris and the documentary by Michael Schiffer on the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. Discussing how the water laws were created and what decisions and discussions went into them, are the focus of the documentary. Having this background provides a broader perspective for the Marana Water team. Jacob put it very nicely saying, "It is easy to get caught up in a routine [at work] and lose sight of the broader implications of the work we do on a daily basis. It was great to see how much of an impact our work has in the bigger picture."

Marana Water is lucky we are able to send so many of our talented staff to a conference like this. It is only once a year, so the department tries to rotate those that are able to go to give everyone a chance to attend. The experiences from the sessions to meeting others in the industry has been invaluable for those that have had the chance to attend. Next year is the 90th anniversary of AZ Water. Looking forward to seeing what they have in store for such an incredible milestone.