Guest Column | June 4, 2019

Denver To Host Biggest Water Conference Of Its Kind In June

By Cathy Proctor


More than 12,000 people are expected to attend the international ACE19 meeting, focusing on ‘Innovating the Future of Water.’

During the second week in June, more than 12,000 people will flow into Denver for the world’s biggest water conference of its kind.

The American Water Works Association’s 2019 Annual Conference & Exposition, dubbed ACE19, will draw water experts from Colorado, North America and more than 50 countries around the world.

The event, June 9-12 at the Colorado Convention Center, brings together people who work across the many segments of the water profession, including utilities, academia, regulators, service providers and researchers. Essentially, the attendees will represent anyone involved in the water cycle, from managing the resource to treatment and delivery of drinking water, to treating the wastewater and returning the water to the environment.

“We’ll have delegates from Ghana, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Israel, India, Australia and all over Europe,” said David LaFrance, CEO of AWWA, the international water organization headquartered in Denver and conference organizer.

“ACE19 is a great place for people from around the world, from North America to some of the most water-challenged countries in the world, to come and share their knowledge. This year’s theme is ‘Innovating the Future of Water’ and some of the technologies that are helping the industry move into a newer, smarter approach to providing water will be on display,” LaFrance said.

David LaFrance, CEO of the Denver-based American Water Works Association, an international water organization.

The conference, which annually rotates to different cities in North America, is expected to have a $26 million economic impact on the metro area, in terms of the spending the delegates will do on hotels, meals and other things during their stay, according to AWWA.

“It’s the largest water conference of its kind in the world. The focus is on drinking water but not exclusively because AWWA advocates for integrated water solutions, which we call ‘Total Water Solutions.’ Attendees will be coming to Denver to learn the latest practices to help them provide safe and clean water and to see what’s coming next in innovations,” LaFrance said.

The conference will open with a keynote presentation from Auden Schendler, the senior vice president of sustainability at the Aspen Skiing Company, who will be talking about “Climate Action in the Real World.”
Also during the conference, top regulators from the Environmental Protection Agency will talk about the most pressing water issues from their vantage point, and an “Innovation Lounge” will host speakers and presentations about the future of water.

Speakers in the lounge during the conference will include the CEO of Denver distillery Leopold Bros. on how the business manages water, and Gitanjali Rao, a teenage scientist who just landed on the “Forbes 30 Under 30” and gained worldwide attention after her development of a portable lead-detection device.

The exhibition floor of the American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition, dubbed ACE, is always a busy place. This picture is from the 2018 conference in Las Vegas, Photo credit: Michael A. Schwarz for AWWA.

In the exhibition hall, attendees will find representatives from the wide array of companies that are integral to the water community. Big companies that make pipes, pumps, valves and hydrants will be there, as will companies that focus on removing contaminants and technologies to boost the smart use of water.

Denver Water, which delivers drinking water to 1.4 million people in Denver and many surrounding suburbs, will send 200 employees to the conference. Some will be presenting about the innovative work going on at the utility. Others will compete in national championships related to the industry. All will go to learn.