American Water Works Association N.J. conference honors achievements, embraces challenges and shapes water landscape

The American Water Works Association New Jersey Section recently concluded its annual conference, held from March 19-22, at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. Drawing over 1,000 water professionals, the event marked a milestone celebration of 50 years of the Safe Drinking Water Act, underscoring the critical role of the water industry in safeguarding public health and promoting sustainable water management practices.

The conference featured a robust program with over 80 presentations, which showcased advancements in water treatment, climate resilience and regulatory updates. Notably, discussions centered on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in light of the recent release of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s final rule on PFAS in drinking water.

In its ongoing collaboration, the Ridgewood-based association proudly partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for the second consecutive year, significantly enriching the conference experience. Throughout the event, NJDEP Water Resources staff delivered essential regulatory updates and facilitated a dedicated resource center.

The conference also provided a platform for networking, with over 125 exhibitors highlighting the latest products and services to the water industry, further fostering innovation and collaboration.

“We are thrilled with the success of this year’s conference, which provided unparalleled opportunities for collaboration, learning and recognition of industry excellence,” Joseph Frissora of HDR and incoming chair of AWWA NJ, said. Frissora succeeds Joseph Aldighieri of Passaic Valley Water Commission.

Highlighting the event were awards recognizing outstanding contributions to the water industry:

  • George Warren Fuller Award: David Tanzi of CDM Smith;
  • Harold V. Florence Meritorious Operator Award: Eric Ekoue of city of New Brunswick;
  • Thomas J. Dawson Dedication Award: Keith Pytlik;
  • Employer Support Award: Newark Water & Sewer;
  • Next Generation Award: Idali Hanson of New Jersey American Water;
  • Diversity Award: Passaic Valley Water Commission;
  • Best Tasting Water: New Jersey American Water, Egg Harbor Township Operations;
  • 2024 Utility Project Award: Veolia Water of New Jersey for their “Ion-Exchange Treatment System Evaluation & Implementation to ensure Compliance with Current & Future PFAS Regulations”;
  • 2024 Innovation Award: Kareem Adeem, Newark Water & Sewer, in honor of Newark’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program;
  • 2024 Research Award: William Morales Medina, Priscilla To, Malcolm Taylor, Caroline Nguyen, Nicole L. Fahrenfeld for their work on drinking water biofilter microbiome.

The momentum continues as AWWA NJ sets its sights on its fall conference, scheduled to take place later this year. Building on the success of the annual conference, the fall gathering promises to delve deeper into industry challenges, highlight innovative solutions and provide invaluable networking opportunities for water professionals across New Jersey.

“As we look forward to our fall conference, we remain committed to advancing the goals of our industry and fostering collaboration among stakeholders,” Frissora said. “We invite water professionals and aspiring water professionals from across the state to join us as we continue to shape the future of water management in our communities.”