CWEA Excels in Santa Clara AC 2014

Training + Innovation = Excellence
The 86th CWEA Annual Conference marked the organization’s return to the Bay Area since 1998. This year’s theme of Training + Innovation = Excellence could be seen and felt throughout the conference week. Attendees experienced CWEA’s new approach to engage members in learning from interactive pre-conference workshops to a revamped Opening General Session as well as a new conference mobile app. Over 400 of our attendees downloaded the “Guidebook” mobile app and we hope to see that number grow next year! CWEA also exceeded registration goals with over 1,082 attendees and over 700 exhibitor personnel.

Pre-Conference Workshops
The 2014 Annual Conference kicked off with seven pre-conference workshops.  More than 225 water professionals were in attendance for an excellent day of training that included the following topics:

• Lab 202
• Collection Systems Asset Management
• TCP Train-the-Trainer
• Source Control Systems Toolbox
• Leadership Training – Sizzle and Substance: Creating Brain-Friendly Presentations
• WW Treatment Regulations 101
• Professional Savvy for the Developed and Developing Professional

Opening General Session – A new look and feel!
The Opening General session looked different, felt different and engaged attendees in a new way. The Innovator’s DNA was the touchstone of all the presentations. For the first time, a professional facilitator wove the tapestry of innovation throughout the presentations given by our esteemed presenters:

• George S Hawkins, General Manager, DC Water
• Chelsea Rochman, UC Davis Scholar
• Vernon Wetzell and Emily Bettencourt, 2013 Stockholm Water Prize California winners
• Saskia Van Gendt, Captain Plant with Method
• Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President of Education & Engagement, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

Technical Sessions
The Technical Program at this year’s conference provided workshops on a host of topics and the participation was tremendous. As part of 51 technical session tracks, over 200 technical presentations were given during the three day conference and topics ranged from emerging regulatory issues and using performance measures, to the latest in renewable energy technology, non-dispersables and resource recovery.

Technical Tours
Technical Tours were one of the most popular activities at this year’s conference as several tours sold out before on-line registration even closed. Over 225 people attended one or more of the five tours that spanned the cities of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Jose. Tours sites included:

• City of Santa Cruz – Wastewater Treatment Facility
• City of San Jose and Santa Clara Valley Water District – Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center
• Gordon Biersch Brewery – Wastewater Pre-Treatment System
• Union Sanitary District – Collection System Operations and Maintenance
• Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara – San Jose/Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility

Manufacturers’ Exhibition, Lunch and Receptions
More than 238 vendor booths filled the Santa Clara Convention Center, filling the massive exhibit hall to the brim. Booth hosts and attendees alike deemed it a wild success. Door prizes in the exhibit hall included gift cards and Kindle Fires. Thursday’s complimentary lunch attracted swarms of conference goers to the informative exhibit booths.  Each evening, exhibitor’s hosted an outstanding reception with food, drink and valuable networking for all who attended.

Industry Partner and CWEA Local Sections & Committee Displays
This marked the sixth year that we invited our industry partners as well as CWEA local sections and committees to come share their programs and activities with our conference attendees. An impressive number of attendees stopped by the conveniently placed booths to learn more about the offerings of the following organizations and industry partners:

• The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists CWEA Public Education Committee; Office of Water Programs
• State Water Resources Control Board
• National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO)
• Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship Committee Tri-State Seminar
• Santa Ana River Basin Section
• Pollution Prevention and Stormwater Committee
• City of Santa Jose/Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility
• Desert & Mountain Section
• Tri-Counties Section

Food, Fun & Networking:

Ice-Breaker Reception
The turnout for this annual networking event was standing room only. With the re-invention of the Opening General Session, the 5-S induction and the Southern & Northern Regional Quarterly Award were included as part of this event. While our members were recognized for these achievements, we found that it didn’t work as well as we would have hoped. The AC 15 team is already working to improve this!

Students and Young Professionals’ Sludgey Scavenger Hunt
The Students and Young Professionals Committee hosted the Sludgey Scavenger Hunt at the Exhibition Hall on Wednesday evening. Teams consisting of one student or young professional and one seasoned veteran of the trade scoured the exhibit hall, taking photos and videos and interacting with exhibitors to check off items on the extensive and always challenging scavenger hunt list. This is always a favorite among conference attendees and a fun learning experience for our students and young professionals.

Awards Lunch
During the Awards Lunch, over 25 state and national level awards were presented to individuals and organizations for their extraordinary achievements in serving our profession and protecting our environment. We are pleased to report that our CWEA local sections have been more than generous with their support of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship. A total of $8,000 was pledged by our Local Sections! New 5-S shoveler’s raised more than $2,000 during the conference.

Conference Banquet
This year’s conference banquet capped off the week with an enchanting evening of fairytales and magic. All those who attended enjoyed the artistry of the Vespterine Circus and dancing to the DJ who spun tunes from the 80’s to current top hits. Despite sore feet from the conference week, the dance floor was full!

Special Events and Activities:

5S Induction Ceremony
Welcome to the new 2014 class of shovelers!
• Kent Bricker, San Diego Section
• Nancy Cameron, Northern Sacramento Valley Section
• Dion Castro, Santa Ana River Basin Section
• William Cassidy, Santa Ana River Basin Section
• Steve Caswel,l Sacramento Area Section
• Steve Dominguez, San Francisco Bay Section
• Meg Herston, San Francisco Bay Section & Redwood Empire
• Teresa Kistner, Tri-Counties Section
• Linda Leong, San Francisco Bay Section
• Helen Ling, San Francisco Bay Section
• Ken Merkle, Northern San Joaquin Valley Section
• Bob Phillips, Santa Ana River Basin Section
• Roy Reynolds, Santa Ana River Basin Section

Operations Challenge
The 2014 Operations Challenge proved to be as exciting as ever for both the competing team and those in the audience cheering them on. Conference attendees once again packed the aisles around the challenge areas to see the teams give it their all in an attempt to be crowned the state’s best. Operations Challenge was a fierce competition among three teams this year. Los Angeles County Sanitation District placed 1st in process, lab, maintenance and collections. Vallejo Sanitation & Flood Control District placed 1st in Safety. Los Angeles placed 1st overall, while Vallejo placed 2nd and Silicon Valley Clean Water placed 3rd.

Sludge Trudge 5k Fun Run/Walk
This year’s Sludge Trudge 5k race was held along the beautiful municipal park trail beginning behind the Convention Center, (and in front of the shiny new Levi’s stadium!) down toward the Bay and back.  There was a great turnout with 36 enthusiastic runners/walkers.   The overall winner was Mark Payne of Skalar, Inc. with a time of 15 minutes and 47 seconds; the women’s overall winner was Meg Herston of Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District with a time of 28 minutes and 18 seconds. Overall best time (men’s and women) race winners within age categories ran/walked/limped away with prizes including runner’s watches, biometric monitors and gift cards. Special thanks to Crystal Rosene and Maura Bonnarens for their assistance on-site on a very warm day.

Thank you to Exhibitors & Sponsors
We wish to thank the following companies for their sponsorship contribution:

Operations Challenge | Misco Water
Hotel Room | Keys RootX
Lanyards | Carollo Engineers
Sludge Trudge | RootX


HDR Engineering, Inc. | 
JWC Environmental
 | Misco Water


Black & Veatch
 | Brown & Caldwell | 
CDM  Smith, Inc. |
 CH2M Hill
 | GHD Inc. | 
Shand & Jurs |
West Yost Associates

Platinum Level

Dudek | 
The Coombs-Hopkins Company
 | Owen Equipment Sales | 
Pipelogix Inc.


Lee & Ro, Inc. | RMC Water and Environment

Thanks to Our Volunteers, Staff and Supporting Organizations
Thank you to all of the volunteers and staff that worked behind the scenes to plan and conduct this incredible Annual Conference.  Whether part of the committee, a technical session moderator, a speaker or other contributor, it was because of you and over 450 other volunteers and CWEA staff members that this year’s conference was a true success.  Most especially, we wish to recognize and thank Conference Committee members and CWEA’s Education and Training staff for their significant efforts, imagination and dedication in planning the 86th Annual Conference.

2014 Annual Conference Committee

Amber Schalansky, Sacramento Area Sewer District
Julie Taylor, CWEA

Christoph Dobson, Sacramento Area Sewer District and Sacramento County Regional Sanitation District

Karen Hoag, Carollo Engineers
Bob Gillette, Retired

Heleana Galvan, HDR

Kevin Calderwood, HDR 
Nick Klumpp, East Bay MUD

Vickie Caulfield, El Dorado Irrigation District
Cassie Prudhel, Cassandra Prudhel Consulting
Jody Allen, South Placer Municipal Utility District
Aren Hansen, Brown & Caldwell

John Mukhar, City of San Jose
Joe Ziemann, WaterWorks Engineers
Stephen Johnson, Jr., Los Angeles County Sanitation District Zoeanne Tafolla, Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District

Penny Darlington, Misco Water 
Mike Tooley, Misco Water

Alec Mackie, JWC 
Marco Palilla, HDR

Charles Hardy, West Yost Associates
Dan Stevenson, City of Sunnyvale

Nina Hawk, City of Santa Clara 
Gayle Tupper, Retired

Saurabh Shekhar, Metropolitan Water District of So. Cal

Maura Bonnarens, East Bay MUD 
Steve Laren, Delta Diablo Sanitation District
Ralph Palomares, City of El Toro 
Steven Ray, Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District

Rupam Soni, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County

Linda Leong, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Meg Herston, Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District

Meg Herston, Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District

John Goodwin, West Yost Associates

Paul Louis, Louis Consulting

Maura Bonnarens, East Bay MUD

Allen Grayson, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Sandie Dudley, CDM Smith

Megan Yoo Schneider, Tetra Tech, Inc.

Stay Connected With CWEA!
Like our Annual Conference Facebook page to continue seeing photos of the great events from this year’s conference. More importantly, keep updated with all the planning for next year’s conference, which is already well underway!

We hope you enjoyed the 2014 Annual Conference and found ways to be more innovative both personally and professionally. We hope to see you again next year in San Diego!

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