No water to drink, or even to make coffee with. No water to shower, flush the toilet, or do laundry. Water is our most precious resource, and Imagine a Day Without Water (IDWW) is a nationwide day to raise awareness and provide education on the value of water through different points of view.
To honor Imagine a Day Without Water, TruePani teamed up with The Water Tower to host a virtual panel discussion on the value of water. #ValueWater
Read the transcript here:
Shannon (00:00): The value of water campaign is supported by top leaders from across the water industry committed to raising awareness about the importance of water and the often invisible water challenges threatening our community. The value of water campaign host "Imagine a Day Without Water 2019," which this year is today, October 23rd. While many people often take it for granted, daily access to clean and affordable water is not guaranteed. This is the fifth annual day to raise awareness and educate America about the value of water. Last year, over a thousand organizations came together with events for imagine a day without water and we're excited for this panel discussion featuring three leaders in the Georgia water community to be part of the conversation this year. Our first panelist is Rich Cavagnaro, the CEO of AdEdge. He has nearly 30 years of international business experience. Adedge Water Technologies, which Rich has led since 2002 is recognized as a market leader for installing drinking water systems.
Shannon (01:01): AdEdge has expanded its portfolio to treat over 20 contaminants using 20 different product lines, including two innovative biological filtration technologies and an ultra high recovery reverse osmosis process. Adedge has been recognized with a lot of awards, most recently the Partnership Gwinnett 2018 Innovation Award, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development GLOBE award in 2018 as well. Rich, thanks so much for joining the panel. Is there anything you want to add to your bio and could you give a little bit more background on your organization and its role in the water industry and the North Georgia community?
Rich (01:41): Sure. Thank you. Shannon. AdEdge is a company that is involved in the removal of contaminants from primarily in the drinking water space from groundwater wells. We have earned the privilege of having more assistance systems for arsenic removal than any company in the world in addition to arsenic being removed from the drinking water, we also get involved in other contaminants such as iron manganese, radionuclides, and now PFAS are some of the things that we're involved with. Our activity in Georgia has been primarily focused in areas of removing iron and manganese from drinking water. Adedge builds, manufacturer,s and designs everything here in North Georgia, Gwinnett County, and we have over 50 people. The company is growing rapidly and one of the biggest challenges that I'm sure we'll talk about coming up is trying to recruit and bring in the individuals into the company to continue to help us grow with the expectation of execution and customer service that we expect to provide to our customers.
Shannon (02:49) Next we have Melissa Meeker. Melissa is the Director of The Water Tower, which is currently under construction, but will focus on addressing water resource resiliency through applied research technology advancement, workforce training and public engagement. Melissa has a lot of experience in many areas of water. She previously served as the CEO of the Water Research Foundation, the Executive Director of WateReuse and the executive director of South Florida water management to name a few. Melissa, thanks so much for being here.
Melissa (03:20) Yeah, thanks so much for having me today. Just really excited to be here. Really excited to talk about The Water Tower. We've been gaining a bit of momentum over the last year and, and things are pretty crazy right now. You mentioned that we're in construction, really focused on creating a campus for those of you in our area. It's very close to the Mall of Georgia off 85, actually between 85 and 985 Adjacent to the F Wayne Hill Water Resources Facility. It is a series of buildings we're going to bring on water-related businesses like AdEdge, the County DWR, which of course it's their property and they're letting us use itbut really excited to have these two key partners that are so innovative themselves as founding partners in the campus and in The Water Tower. Again, thinking about water, water, workforce, how do we make the water industry sexy and bring people in? Really from GED to PhD. So we've got a full range of job opportunities all contributing back to society and our communities and making, you know, our water safe and our environment protected through water quality protection. So just a neat, innovative campus is what we're trying to create. So very excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Shannon (04:47): Thank you. And our last panelist is Eric Swett. Eric is a section manager at Gwinnett County overseeing preventative maintenance for the department of water resources. Eric has extensive stormwater experience including implementing computerized maintenance management systems, creating performance metrics, investigating citizens, storm water complaints, and implementing a County stormwater asset inspection programs. Eric, is there anything that you'd like to supplement to that bio and can you give a little bit more insight into your work and the role in the North Georgia community?
Eric (05:19): Okay, sure. Thank you again for having me today. Currently I am over the preventive maintenance programs over our water and sewer infrastructure, specifically over our water loss prevention program. So everything from leak detection to preventive maintenance measures such as valve assessment, hydrated assessment in order to identify areas where we could have sources of potential water loss. In addition, I also oversee our sewer preventive maintenance.
Eric (05:58): When people think about water, they seem to always think about what comes out of the tap. But wastewater is a large component of our water cycle. So keeping the water in the pipe where it belongs is extremely important to us. So we do have a robust preventive maintenance program with our sewer department or wastewater inspection program, preventive maintenance for cleaning and flushing. We want to ensure everything collected, gets to the proper place, whether it be a pump station or a wastewater reclamation facilities to make sure we have the opportunity to capture everything we can, treat it, and put it back into our drinking water source, whether it be Yellow River, Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier. We want to ensure that we're able to convey and collect and treat all of all the water we can from our users or our customers, I should say. As far as how we play a role in North Georgia, Gwinnett County is the most populous county within, within the state.
Eric (07:00): We serve at last check over 900,000 residents. We are one of the top water suppliers in the state of Georgia. So we serve a very large population within the state and we look to be leaders in the water industry. We like to be innovative. We like to be recognized as the, as a leader in the water industry.
Shannon (07:27): Yeah. Great. Thank you. So the first question that I have for everyone, what led you to decide to work in water, and what you think needs to happen to engage the next generation?
Rich (07:40): I got involved in the water industry... Primarily due to... I was in a startup company and we were developing some materials science technologies for the removal of arsenic in groundwater. And going back about 20 years or so, the EPA in the US decided to lower their standard of arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion down to 10 parts per billion. And during that period of time, we were developing a lot of different technologies that might be able to assist in lowering the expected costs of arsenic removal versus what the EPA was claiming the cost to be. So we were benchmarking different materials and in fact my company that I was working with at that time was struggling as a startup company to make ends meet. So we were benchmarking against the technology from Germany that was better than the one we were developing.
Rich (08:32): So I decided to take the risk and start my own company and contact the company abroad to see if they would let us participate and bring in their technology into the U S market to coincide with the rule change that took place in 2002. So long story short they said, "Oh, okay, why not, I'll work with a US company." And,uso therefore that led to us getting involved in starting a company. In the early years of our business, we were focused primarily on private wells and point-of-use, whole house,reatment systems and dabbling into some very small,usystems around the country, schools and churches and just camps and some very small systems. It took a while to build a resume. One of the things in the water industry is bringing innovation into the marketplace doesn't happen quickly like it can and other industries. So we built our footprint by going after small systems and then gradually growing to larger. I'm proud to say that right now in 2020, we will have the largest groundwater project in the United States. In 2020 that's going on. So the evolution of starting that, the very smallest systems to now the largest groundwater project in the United States, took 20 years, basically for that effort to occur.
Shannon (10:01): Do you think that helps to engage the next generation of workers to have an overview of where you've been and where you are now and where you're continuing to go? Or a