Friday, October 13, 2017

A Recap of the 101st Annual Minnesota AWWA Conference

What a week! Our 101st annual MN AWWA Conference took place along the water (where else?) last month, in the beautiful city of Duluth.

As usual, the conference was four days chock full of events, kicking off September 12th with a day of clay shooting, golfing, fishing and the like to raise funds for Minnesota AWWA’s Philanthropic Committee and the life-changing missions of Water for People and the Water Equation.

The support adds up. Overall this year, MN AWWA events have raised over $30,000 for the MN AWWA Philanthropic Committee. We welcomed 13 tournament fishing boats, 50 sporting clay shooters, and 105 tournament golfers.

Keynotes and Competitions

On September 13th, we heard from keynote speakers Brenda Lennox, President of the American Water Works Association, and Erik Therwanger, author of “The Leadership Connection.”

Later, we named the winner of the highly anticipated “Best in Glass” taste test award. This year, the City of Bloomington has the best tasting water in Minnesota! The city will compete at the American Water Works Association’s ACE18 National Conference next June in Las Vegas.

We also crowned champs for the Meter Madness, Hydrant Hysteria and Pipe Tapping competitions. Brent Massmann of the City of Eagan, the Duluth Great Lakes Tappers and the Bloomington Gladiators saw victory in each category, respectively.

Each winner will compete at the American Water Works Association’s ACE18 National Conference next June in Las Vegas!

Meet Eric Volk

September 14th was a day of recognition. We elected Eric Volk as the new Section-Chair Elect. Eric has worked his way up in the industry the last 15 years, first as a water/wastewater operator with the city of Blaine, then as a Lead Water Operator and now Water Superintendent for Elk River Municipal Utilities (ERMU).

He served for nearly 23 years in the military, including four deployments. He retired from the military in December 2014. He has earned his Public Works Certificate and is now working toward a BS in Business Administration.

As chair, Eric plans to focus on operator recruitment and training. Specifically, that means working with the Professional Operator Development Committee to make sure current and future operators can meet the challenges of enhancing regulations, as well as recruiting new operators by connecting with several programs around the state to train a new generation.

Award Winners

On Thursday, several members received well-deserved recognition for their hard work.
  • Patrick Shea was awarded the George Warren Fuller Award, which recognizes “distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of the sound engineering skill . . . the brilliant diplomatic talent . . . and the constructive leadership which characterized the life of George Warren Fuller.”
  • Steve Schneider was presented the Leonard N. Thompson Award, an award for “distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of Leonard N. Thompson, past General Manager of the St. Paul Water Utility for nearly 34 years.”
  • The Jon Eaton Excellence in Volunteering Award went to Brian LeMon, for advancing AWWA through his volunteer time and efforts.

We closed the week on September 15th with technical sessions, a panel session, and a farewell lunch. It was a great week learning from and with the state’s top water professionals.

View more photos from the conference here! To learn more about the Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association, visit our website!