Views From The Top: CA-NV AWWA Celebrates A Century Of Progress
Founded in 1881, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is the largest organization of water supply professionals in the world — over 50,000 members strong. One of its most important sections (i.e., bearing the weight of many water issues) is the California-Nevada Section, which counts more than 5,700 members and has been in operation since 1920. In addition to celebrating 100 years, CA-NV AWWA recently designated a new executive director, Sue Mosburg. Previously, Mosburg worked as program manager, program supervisor, and training coordinator in the span of 20 years at Sweetwater Authority in Chula Vista, CA, and spent the decade prior as a senior supervisor and technical trainer for the City of San Diego Water Department.
Considering her wealth of experience and influence, Water Online caught up with Mosburg for this brief Q&A to discuss her personal goals, CA-NV AWWA Section initiatives, and the ongoing influence of technology.
What impressed you most as you took over as executive director of AWWA’s California-Nevada Section, and what do you look forward to?
I’m just beginning to discover the range of challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. Multi-day industry conferences that showcase best practices, share lessons learned, and recognize achievement don’t just happen. Ensuring that water technology courses and professional certification programs include appropriate content and are aligned with industry standards takes a significant amount of planning and coordination. As a volunteer-based organization, we rely on professionals across the water sector to provide technical expertise, innovative suggestions, and leadership for our over 50 working committees. Literally hundreds of dedicated volunteers ensure that the Section’s training and certification programs are relevant and technically sound.
The Section’s day-to-day activities are administered by a staff of only 13. In my first few weeks on the job, I have been impressed with the positive team spirit of staff and volunteers as they have come together to plan our upcoming events. We’ve been serving AWWA members in our region for 100 years, and I’m excited that the Section will be celebrating its centennial anniversary during our upcoming Spring Conference, April 6-9, 2020 at the “happiest place on Earth” [Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA].
How has technology evolved and influenced operations since your early days as a Section member?
When I first started volunteering with AWWA in the late 1980s, I remember getting a printed copy of the CA-NV AWWA Rules from a friend who also volunteered for the Section. As a new volunteer with so much to learn, I was given a three-ring binder with dog-eared pages and highlighted text and considered it a valuable gift. Fast forward to today and computers have totally changed the office. How we store documents and expect to access them — the whole process from production to distribution — is enormously different. Versions can be changed with much less effort, document revisions can be done across the country in real-time through collaboration websites, and the expectation is that procedural documents are available in a few clicks or swipes — not stored away in a file cabinet or located on single hard drive.
Several years ago, the Section embarked on a multi-year project to ensure that governance documents were aligned with member needs, volunteer resources, and AWWA’s guiding principles. Since then, the bylaws, strategic plan, and numerous policies have all been updated, yet many of our leaders are not aware of these documents. I would like to implement solutions to efficiently manage the incredible volume of data and documents that drive the water industry and support good decision-making.
What technology plans are afoot during your tenure to keep the momentum going?
For the past 100 years, water systems have expanded and water quality regulations have dramatically changed — and so has the technology used to deliver water to our homes and communities. Like the members we serve, the Section’s data management tools and computer support systems haven’t always kept up, challenging the Section to efficiently and effectively conduct business and serve our members. I’m looking forward to working with staff and volunteers to streamline workflow and upgrade the Section’s technology. Last year, a project team worked with a consultant to identify business operation pain points and technology challenges. This fiscal year, the Section’s governing board allocated funds to begin a technology improvement project. I look forward to this project and the opportunities it will bring to leverage technology to better serve our members.
About CA-NV AWWA
The California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) is a non-profit association whose mission is to support the water professionals who provide safe and reliable water. Since 1920, CA-NV AWWA members and volunteers have impacted the industry with their commitment and dedication to leading, educating, and serving the drinking water community. Our audience includes skilled distribution operators, treatment operators, engineers, managers, and field professionals from the world of drinking water supply and safety. The focus of the organization is to ensure public health and to provide safe and sufficient water for all.