General Sessions

Challenging the Status Quo: Visionary Water Utility Leaders

Visionary water utility leaders from around the country will come together to discuss what utilities must be doing now to prepare for the future and how their own utilities are taking proactive steps forward.

View from the Capitol Dome: Flood Policy and the 86th Texas Legislative Session

Texas legislators will provide an in-depth discussion on flood-related policy from the 86th Texas Legislative Session, including their expectations, current program status, and hopes for the next session.

Flood: Prevention and Planning for the Inevitable

Flood and the Environment: Maintaining a Resilient Texas

Floods are a natural component of the hydrological cycle. As such, landscapes, habitats, and species respond—both positively and negatively—to the disturbances caused by these events. Panelists will discuss the ecological and economic benefits of increasing resiliency to preserve the benefits of flooding within the environment.

Planning for Disaster from the Ground Up

Safeguarding a community from flood requires city-wide preparation from the ground up. Panelists will discuss what can be done preemptively to mitigate flooding, such as land-use policies, codes, building standards, and other factors to consider as part of flood planning efforts.

Strategic Stormwater Financing: Challenges and Innovative Solutions

Managing stormwater is a concern for communities around the state. And at the top of the list of challenges is how to pay for new stormwater solutions. Panelists will discuss that concern and some of the innovative financial approaches being used in Texas and elsewhere.

Walking on Water: Nature-Based Flood Mitigation

Communities throughout the world are incorporating nonstructural solutions into their flood mitigation strategies. Panelists will discuss the pros and cons of green solutions as they relate to the environment, financial impact, and overall well-being of a community.

Science, Technology, and Innovation: Tools to Guide Our Future

Advanced Metering Infrastructure: Advanced Meters, Real-Time Data, Informed Decisions

In an age where everything is “smart,” it makes sense that water utilities are jumping onboard this trend by investing in advanced metering systems that offer benefits not available through traditional meters. But what do utilities have to show for this investment? Panelists will share their implementation stories and how they’re using the data to drive decisions.

Mapping the Future of GIS

The next phase of GIS technology and artificial intelligence is always in development. Panelists will discuss what’s on the horizon for GIS in the coming years as it relates to flood, water planning, and disaster response.

Sink or Swim: Cybersecurity and the Water Industry

Panelists will share their expertise and experience as it relates to cybersecurity in the water industry. Attendees will learn about types of threats and how to protect against them, resources and tools available, and recent legislation’s impact on communities.

Talk Techy to Me: Wading Through Water Technology Options

With myriad technologies on the market to help utilities with everything from data acquisition and integration to customer interaction and billing, what should utilities actually consider implementing? In this panel, technology leaders will share their insights into tools and resources that will benefit water utilities long beyond the next version update.

The Business of Water: Expanding Our Line of Sight

Alternate Viewpoints: How to Allocate Groundwater Permits

As is the case with everything, especially groundwater in Texas, there are two sides to every story. This session will feature panelists with differing viewpoints of how groundwater permits should be allocated and will also address ways in which these viewpoints impact other areas of groundwater in Texas.

Engineering the Future: Water Sustainability in the High-Technology Industry

The technology industry in Texas drives innovation and economic expansion and, like all businesses, requires water. Representatives from high-tech companies will explore why water sustainability is important and what their companies are doing to conserve this resource.

Eyes on the Horizon: Building the Next Generation of the Water Workforce

The water industry faces significant staffing challenges in years to come as much of its workforce enters into retirement. Promoting the water sector as a desirable career path and recruiting and training the next generation of industry leaders must start now. Panelists will discuss technical, academic, and leadership training opportunities to help position the water industry for a successful future.

Investing for Good: Environmental, Social, and Governance Bonds

The growing interest in environmental, social, and governance bonds in recent years is impacting both investors and utilities. In this session, panelists will discuss their experiences investing in and issuing these bonds and provide insight into why more water providers are turning to green bonds to achieve their sustainable development strategies.

Produced Water: Can Oil and Water Mix?

The fracking boom in Texas has enabled a surge in oil and gas production, which serves as a powerful economic engine for the state. It has also introduced complex issues about water transfers, storage, reuse, and disposal. This panel will explore the challenges of the water needed, used, and produced in the oil and gas industry.

Understanding the True Value of Water

Thanks to ongoing cycles of drought and flood, Texas faces the perpetual contradiction of water scarcity and water surplus. Given these changing conditions, how do we ascertain the true value of water? Panelists will explore this question and discuss how that value changes over time and how it is recognized by various water stakeholders.

Water Communications: Shaping the Conversation

Cutting Through the Clutter: The Power of Strong Branding

Water industry and public relations experts will discuss the importance of creating purposeful, trustworthy identities for water organizations. Panelists will share lessons learned, rebranding results, and why branding matters for customer relations.

Keep Calm and Communicate On: Crisis Communications in the Water Industry

Sanitary sewer overflows, boil water notices, water main breaks, cybersecurity breaches, natural disasters—just a few types of crises that the water industry must be prepared to deal with every day. In this session, panelists will discuss their experiences and best practices for successfully navigating a crisis.

Storytelling: It’s Not Neuroscience! Or Is It?

This panel will examine the science behind how our brains process information and why storytelling is an effective tool to capture your customers’ attention and drive behavior and attitude changes. Panelists will discuss how the water industry can benefit from these scientific findings and use them to drive more effective customer communications.

Taking It Online: Cultivating Community Through Social Media

Social media is always on and requires constant monitoring. It can be a utility’s best friend or biggest foe. This panel will focus on social media best practices, successful social media communication by utilities to stakeholders, and an overview of the current social media landscape as it relates to the water industry.