SWAN NA Alliance

SWAN North American Alliance Newsletter – Winter 2018

Alliance Update

Introducing the SWAN Rising Smart Water Professionals Group

The Rising Smart Water Professionals Group (RiSWP) is a new group within SWAN for students and young professionals, which will empower and support the next generation of smart water leaders. RiSWP will focus on promoting data-driven solutions and forwarding common objectives, such as providing career resources, highlighting student research, and organizing educational events.

SWAN members looking to get involved (Thank You!) should email Gregory Ewing at gregjewi@umich.edu. We are currently developing a network of companies and professionals willing to help grow RiSWP.

SAVE THE DATE: SWAN NA Alliance Cyber Security Webinar

Safeguarding the water utility industry from cyber attacks and interference is a critical challenge, regardless of utility size, and understanding how solutions can be securely implemented has become increasingly important. Join us on March 27th at 1 pm EST for a 1-hour webinar, which will bring together a panel of experts to address that dynamics and challenges that the water industry faces as it deploys a fast growing number of sensors and digitally-connected technologies. Further details will be announced through the Alliance website HERE.

Take Action!

SWAN NA Alliance Member Survey

The SWAN North American Alliance has made great progress since its inception in 2016. We would like to ensure we are continuing to provide the right activities and tools to meet the industry’s growing demands. Please complete the below survey by Friday, February 23rd to help us continue to improve and grow. We greatly appreciate your time and feedback (Thank You!)

The SWAN 8th Annual Conference, “Smart Water: Meeting Tomorrow’s Challenges Today” will be held 21-22 May 2018 in Barcelona. Don’t miss what will be the leading smart water/wastewater event of the year!

Click below to register, view the agenda and hotel discount code.

SWAN RESEARCH PORTAL: Call for Research Papers


The SWAN Research Portal is designed to be an open source for sharing smart water initiatives across the world and bring both innovation and case studies to light across the water community.

Already, several SWAN members have contributed their research. If you have any case studies or relevant reports that you would like to have highlighted in the Research Portal, these can be submitted via the Research Portal HERE.

Together we can continue to accelerate the revolution smart technologies are having for water resources preservation, public health protection, efficiency and optimization, and customer engagement.

New Member Spotlight: Fayette County, Georgia and Univ. of Michigan

A Q&A with Lee Pope

Water Systems Director, Fayette County Water System, Fayette County, GA

Interview by Amir Cahn, Executive Director, SWAN

Fayette County Water System provides water service to several towns and cities within the County, supporting a growing population of over 98,000.

Q: How did you learn about SWAN and why did you decide to join?

A: First, I received some emails from SWAN and that’s because my interest in other organizations like this. After receiving the email, I went to the webpage and read a little bit about SWAN and their initiative and efforts and that was something I was very interested in and we as a county are also very interested in. From that, we decided to inquire about having a membership because we have some things that we would like to share with others, as well as we would like to network with others to learn about what they are doing.

Q: How do you see the state of new data technologies in the North American water industry?

A: I think that data is becoming more and more available to us in the water industry and I think if we can capture that data and continue to compile it that we can better manage our resources, not only through our watershed, but through our water systems as a whole.

Q: Are there specific local challenges that these technologies are helping you address more effectively today?

A: Drought is the driving force, but I think just helping everyone be more mindful about their impact on our water resources. When I say that, that’s us as an industry ourselves, as well as our customers. I think there are several ways that we can use data to improve how everyone utilizes water to make sure that they are more efficient minimizing the impact on our ground water resources. What we’ve usually not done in the past, but we’re beginning to do now is to allow the environment to have a seat at the table. What I mean is that we’ve set down and planned our reservoirs around citizen demands on our water systems and did not think about what our environment needed. By “seat at the table” I mean listening to environmental groups whose voices have not been heard. We’re now working to make sure we meet not only the demands of the citizens, but also the demands of the environment by doing more than the minimum.

Q: What are your expectations from SWAN?

A: Our big expectation from SWAN is take get our story out there, but also to learn from others and to see what others are doing not only nationally but internationally because water resources are a string of all systems globally and I think that’s what all the concern is about safe drinking water and all the resources available to meet the demands of our citizens no matter what country we’re in. So, I think that by networking through something like SWAN, we can share what we’re doing here, as well as learn what others are doing and together we can continue to improve how we are addressing all of our resource issues.

Q: Tell us something that our members should know about Fayette County.

A: First of all, Pinewood Studios is located in Fayette County if you watch Iron Man, as well as where the founder of Chick-fil-A’s restaurant called home. Our county is growing, but is also very concerned about their water resources. While we have the industry here that is recognized nationwide, dozens of businesses are concerned about the impacts they have on our raw water. So, I’m getting the support we need from leadership to plan for the future and protect our water resources while we still grow as a county and city.

Q: What keeps you excited about working in water?

A: I love this job because it changes, and I think this industry as a whole is going to grow so fast because technology is allowing us to better manage our water resources. Previously (30-40 years ago), we built reservoirs and plants, put pipes in the ground, and just did what we had to do to supply water. Now, we’re beginning to better manage that to make sure we’re putting in good infrastructure and maintaining it, deciding when it needs to be replaced, as well using technology to track our usage both into and out of our reservoirs and streams. We’re looking not only at flows, but how we’re impacting water quality and quantity in our basin. We have so much technology now that can help us monitor the treatment, distribution and collection process to be efficient and mindful of the quality of the water that we let pass through county so that excites me.

Q: What recommendation do you have for rising professionals entering the industry?

A: I think it’s critical that young professionals continue to pursue technology, which means looking at the things being utilized across the world to better manage our water resources. Don’t get stuck doing things like they’ve always done, but be open to trying out what does and does not work. There is a lot of technology out there, some of it may be new ideas that may not work as well as anticipated, but it’s important to always be willing to pursue every opportunity to use technology to see if we can improve managing our water and wastewater systems. 

A Q&A with Greg Ewing
Research Associate, University of Michigan and SWAN RiSWP Leader

Interview by Kristina Foster, SWAN North American Alliance Outreach Group Leader and Marketing Communications Manager at Sensus, a Xylem brand

A top-ranked public university, the University of Michigan has a tradition of excellence in research, learning and teaching, sports and the arts, and more. Its College of Engineering is frequently ranked as one of the top engineering schools in the nation and rest of world.

Q: How did you learn about SWAN and why did you decide to join?

A: We learned about SWAN through our industry partners, and by attending a SWAN event in Chicago in the fall. While at the event we were excited to see many of the companies and people working in the smart water space. It was after this event that we decided to join SWAN.

Q: How do you see the state of new data technologies in the North American water industry?

A: Looking forward, we are excited about the increasing “opening” of data sets. Moving towards open and accessible data will only increase overall knowledge and allow for more rapid and meaningful discoveries.

Q: What are you expectations from an organization like SWAN?

A: From research outfits like ourselves, to professional practitioners developing solutions, to the city and regional managers seeking to solve to their water resource challenges via data-driven smart applications, SWAN can help form links between all parties in the smart water space. We are also hopeful that SWAN can be a point-of-entrance for students and young professionals looking to grow into careers working in the smart water field.

Q: Tell us something that our members should know about your university.

A: Not only are we working on smart water infrastructure here at the University of Michigan, but there are many other teams focusing their energies on solving the many other challenges of 21st-century urban living such as smart and connected automobiles, robotics and sensing, and the smart energy grid. We have one of the few “intelligent” systems graduate program in the country, which focuses on merging expertise in civil infrastructure with tools from other disciples, such as computer science and electrical engineering.

Q: What keeps you excited about working in water?

A: What excites me is that there will always be questions to answer within the water sector and, in doing so, ways to improve people’s lives at a very fundamental level. Further, this sector seems to be poised to implement new technologies and ideas in the coming decades at a scale unseen in recent past. Being part of that process is an exciting undertaking.

Q: What recommendations do you have for rising professionals entering the industry?

A: Work hard, talk to everyone, and stay excited because it’s still early — we’ll need some time for these unconventional ideas to catch on. There’s lots to be done.

Industry Insights

Water and the Digital Transformation: It Just Makes Sense

By GlobalWaterWorks, a SWAN North American Alliance Member

CHICAGO—It’s a digital world, but apparently not everyone has gotten the message.

To help remedy that, the SWAN North American Alliance held its 2nd Annual Utility Workshop in Chicago on Nov. 6. Aptly titled “Modernizing North American Water Systems in the Digital Age,” the day-long event, in collaboration with the the Alliance for Water Efficiency, Current, and Global Water Works, featured an interactive exploration of innovative digital solutions to water challenges.

During a panel discussion called “Smart Water Technologies: Understanding the opportunity,” panelist Tim Kruse, VP at Eramosa, a consulting engineering firm specializing in Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, talked about a recent visit to a large waste-water plant.

“They were using Excel. Cut & paste, cut & paste. They need better access to data and the single most transformative thing they can do is find solutions that talk to each other and use the tools to get it done. They are available.”

Turn-key solutions that integrate all components of monitoring, communications and reporting “out-of-the-box” may provide an easier on-ramp for smaller utilities or utilities just embarking on a digital transformation, said David Drake, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of SmartCover Systems, a pioneer in smart collection system technology.

In another panel, “Embracing a Digital Transformation, Colin Walsby, Senior Director of Strategy & Business Development at Xylem, a smart water technology provider, listed some of the benefits of going digital.

  • Initial investment focuses on solving specific individual issues
  • Utilization of data and sharing of systems across departments drive additional operational efficiencies
  • Ability to measure key performance metrics
  • Customers are better informed and receive increased services
  • Public safety is enhanced

Customers want to know what’s happening and the technologies are available today to inform them. Data-driven water utilities will arm themselves, their staffs and their customers with the ability to benchmark their water use and improve on it.

The key to smart, efficient use of water is timely, transparent communications. The Internet of Things (IoT) can make it easy. The research firm, Gartner, Inc., defines IoT as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”

For example, sensors that detect small leaks before they become devastating can help the utility get repair crews out quickly, and deliver the information—and updates—to customers via apps, e-mail or text messages. Every customer interaction provides a communications opportunity that helps build the utility’s brand and reputation.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water), as part of its ongoing effort to be more transparent, launched an open data portal to share important information with customers.

“Good data tells a story and informs decision making,” the utility says on its Web site. “It can also remove some of the mystery about the work a utility is doing on behalf of our customers. Through DC Water’s open data portal, customers can see when DC Water is replacing automated meters in their neighborhood, or track historical data on water main breaks and sanitary sewer overflows. DC Water anticipates adding more datasets in the near future.”

More and more providers are seeing the value of going digital, taking advantage of the technology that’s out there and available. Even social media, if used properly, can help make a difference.

Want to see more? View presentations from the Chicago Workshop HERE.

Member Notes

Bluefield Research Report Discount Available for SWAN Members

The water industry plans to invest over $20 billion in data and analytics over the next decade. Bluefield analyzes key trends, market opportunities, and company strategies for smart water solutions. We are pleased to offer SWAN members 30% off of our U.S. Smart Water Report (use code SWAN18 at www.bluefieldresearch.com)

Smart Water Innovators Linked by SWAN for Global Partnership

The UK is lending its water smarts to the U.S with Save Water Save Money (SWSM), and GlobalWaterWorks is partnering with SWSM’s CEO and founder Tim Robertson to spread the word. The two smart water organizations were introduced by George Theo of Australia’s Unitywater while at SWAN-London last May. SaveWaterSaveMoney is used by 90% of UK utilities to engage customers and address water mandates.

Email: mary@savewatersavemoney.com (or mary.eggert@globalwaterworks.org) to learn more.

SWAN Mission Exhibited at WQTC17

The mission of the SWAN Forum was exhibited at the Water Quality Technology Conference in Portland, Ore. as a range of firms — from manufacturers of analyzers like s::can to developers of water information systems like KISTERS – raised awareness of the increasing adoption of data-driven technologies in water/wastewater networks. Delegates with piecemeal approaches to managing, processing and sharing information were eager to learn from peers at utilities like DC Water and American Water. Both are active SWAN Alliance members capitalizing on modern capabilities to utilize data to provide good customer service and partner with groups that enhance quality of life in their communities.

Upcoming Events

2018 LIFT Intelligent Water Challenge in San Antonio

The Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT), a joint effort of The Water Research Foundation and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), is holding its first-ever Intelligent Water Challenge to demonstrate the value of intelligent water systems to utilities and thereby foster the adoption of smart water technologies. Water. The Challenge will be formally unveiled on Friday, February 23rd 2018 from 12-2 pm CT in San Antonio.

Learn more HERE.

CWEA Annual Conference in Sacramento

The SWAN North American Alliance is organizing two, Smart Water learning sessions at the California WEA Annual Conference on April 18 and 19th in Sacramento. The conference runs from April 17-20th. Facilitated by SWAN NA’s Tim Braun from EmNet, the speakers will come from technology providers exhibiting at the conference. Topics include: Navigating the digital transformation of water utilities; Addressing integration and cybersecurity challenges; Resilient water systems; Real-time water quality monitoring; and more. SWAN members who would like to exhibit at AC18 and apply to present should contact: Alec Mackie at CWEA (amackie@cwea.org) or call 510.382.7800 x114. By doing so, you’ll receive a SWAN member exhibitor discount. Conference website: AC.CWEA.org 

We greatly value your feedback, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Email:  info@swan-forum.com