Annual Conference 2019 Recap

The 2019 Annual Conference (held at the Renaissance Palm Springs and Palm Springs Convention Center) included tracks on Leadership, Water Reuse, Biosolids, Pump Basics, Laboratory TNI Standards, Declining Flows, Asset Management, just to name a few. With over 1,000 attendees and 720 vendor attendees, the week was full of energy, learning, networking and fun! You can download conference presentations here.

The conference started off on a sweet note with Drew Dudley of Day One Leadership defining what a lollipop moment was. He shared inspiring stories on leadership, recognizing leadership in ourselves, raising leaders, working with leaders and ultimately changing our view on how we see leadership.

This was the second year CWEA held the Women Impacting Water breakfast meeting to a sold out group. Megan Yoo Schneider lead the audience on an interactive journey of networking and discussion with California water leaders, engineers, operators and scientists. It was a high energy discussion where participants shared how they achieve work life balance, why having mentors are so important and to keep looking for the opportunities. Thank you United Rentals, ARUP, DN Tanks, Woodard & Curran and V&A Consulting for sponsoring this event.

The Conference Committee put together an outstanding program. New and exciting events and items worth mentioning:

  • Several hands-on workshops for pumps, microbiology and process optimization
  • Truck Maintenance training
  • More hotels to select from
  • You Don’t Know Pooh Game Show
  • CWEA Sewer Hunt: Journey of a Thousand Pipes Scavenger Hunt
  • Chief Plant Operators Networking
  • Mobile Tech Tours
  • Partnering with CA-NV AWWA to Launch AWT Operator Certification
  • More Wednesday networking lunches

This year, CWEA recognized 10 5S new inductees. All of these individuals are recognized for being active in protecting the water environment through participation in Local, State, and/or Federal sponsored activities. The 2019 shovel took on the form of the California grizzly bear. These new shovels are available to any 5S recipient wanting to upgrade or collect this new shovel. It’s a limited availability and can be purchased for a donation of $25 to the Kirt Brooks Scholarship fund. Contact mbarillo@cwea.org for information.

The week continued with some bittersweet moments, as we said “so long” to CWEA’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Allan as she enters retirement after 17 years with CWEA. Read her interview here.

The first ever You Don’t Know 💩 game show was a stinking hit! Two days full of wastewater trivia and prizes galore, including the coveted 💩 emoji trophy! Congratulations to WEF President Tom Kunetz and his various team members for wiping the slate clean with his wastewater knowledge two days in-a-row.

But those weren’t all the prizes that were in store. The Students and Young Professionals Committee put on a flawless scavenger hunt through the exhibit hall. The Journey of a Thousand Pipes Sewer Hunt attracted almost 40 participants. Each participant was required to engage with exhibitors to extract an answer from them in order to win points and ultimately, prizes! All of this was done in the CWEA Conference App.

Debbie Webster of Central Valley Clean Water Association (left) won the Grand Prize iPad.

Check out the feedback we’re receiving on the scavenger hunt!

“The Scavenger Hunt was a fun thing to play. I hope it continues at future CWEA Conferences.”

“Great conference, great idea on the scavenger hunt and the app.”

Thank you Dudek for sponsoring this fun event!

The week ended on a high note with the voting in of the new CWEA Board during the Annual Business Meeting and the cheers and applause for all the deserving water professionals being awarded at the Annual Awards Celebration. More than 30 CWEA State award winners were recognized, 10 Kirt Brooks Scholarship winners and several WEF winners. The complete list of winners of CWEA and WEF awards given, including new 5S inductees can be found here. Thank you Xylem and Kimley Horn for sponsoring the awards event.

Thank you Tom Kunetz, WEF’s President, for sharing words of wisdom on what an actual Diva is and for sharing your story on how nothing should be standing in your way. With the right amount of determination, anything can be done.

We will all take these words of wisdom, lessons learned, tips, tricks and more with us as we level up in our sector.  Thank you to all AC19 sponsors.

And to top that all off, thanks to the generous donations from Local Sections and collections from CWEA members during the week, almost $30,000 was raised for the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Scholarship Fund!

CWEA would like to extend a big “thank you” to Ddaze Phuong of Orange County Sanitation District and Ralph Palomares of El Toro Water District for their continuous support in capturing these moments so we can share and look back on them in future years.

This conference wouldn’t have been successful if it wasn’t for these people. Thank you Conference Education Program Team!

  • Chairs: Brian Peck, SOCWA and Monica Myhill, CWEA
  • CWEA President: Connie Leonard, PE, BCEE, CDM Smith
  • Education Program Team:
    • Gary Warren, EBMUD – Chair
    • Laurie Brenner, Union Sanitary District
    • Howard Brewen, Jacobs
    • Steve Cano, Central Marin Sanitation District
    • Thomas Falk, CDM Smith
    • Kathryn Gies, West Yost Associates
    • Chris Newton, South Coast Water District
    • Amy Omae, HDR
    • John Robinson, John Robinson Consulting
    • Wendy Wert, LACSD
    • Andrea White, Moleaer
  • Exhibits: Denis Pollak, Retired; Brian Villacorta, Coombs-Hopkins and Christine Carchia CWEA
  • Women’s Networking Breakfast and Volunteer Reception: Berlinda Blackburn, City of Coachella
  • Opening General Session: Megan Yoo Schneider, Seven Management Consulting Inc. and Municipal Water District of Orange County
  • Technical Tours: Charles Greely Dudek
  • Awards Lunch: Ian Mackenzie, Hazen and Megan Barillo, CWEA
  • Track Facilitator Co-Chairs: Bryce Danker, Hazen; Sheba Haviz, Arup and Roni Young, SOCWA
  • SYP: Veronica Astells, Town of Windsor
  • Golf Tournament: Steve Agor, Skanska
  • Photo & Video: Ralph Palomares, El Toro Water District and Ddaze Phuong, Orange County Sanitary District

To volunteer for the AC20 Education Program Team for next year’s Annual Conference in Reno, NV on March 31 – April 3 contact Gary Warren, EBMUD or sign up here.


Conference photo album.

AC19 Palm Springs

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Megan Barillo

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