Meet Your PNCWA 2021 Conference Chairs

The PNCWA Board is working full steam ahead on PNCWA 2021. Because we don’t know what the conference will look like — in-person, virtual, or hybrid — we are sending out a survey to learn what you’d like to see and how we can make an in-person or virtual event work for you. We also want to hear from our vendors and manufacturers: what has been your experience, what is your expectation, and how can we provide continued value to you in these times.

We look forward to launching our 2021 call for abstracts next month, but in the meantime we will let the PNCWA 2021 Conference Chairs introduce themselves.

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Updates on Water For People, InFLOW, and Water Palooza

Water For People’s first World Water Classic 6k/60k was a huge success! Over the 10 day event, almost 800 participants ran, walked, or cycled close to 15,000 kilometers in 13 different countries. Together we raised nearly $40,000 to support Water For People in ending the average 6 kilometers that women and girls around the world walk each day to get water instead of going to school, working, or playing.

The PNCWA team had a great showing with 20 participants raising $1,240, and our own Casey Gish took 2nd in the 6k run! Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed.

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Committee Spotlight: Construction Management

Construction Management During Times Of Covid

By Don Poletski, P.E., and Molly Nause-McCord for the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services; Rick Attanasio, P.E., for Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.

A successfully executed project comes down to its team. Close coordination among contractors, construction managers, inspection and safety staff, and suppliers is key to a successful, safe, efficient, and innovative project. However, it is 2020, and COVID-19 dictates that social distancing requirements be met, which means the traditional in-person weekly, construction, safety, and planning meetings must be replaced with virtual ones. These requirements compound in the field, where close site coordination and physical work must still be done. How does a construction team adapt management techniques during a pandemic?

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) began planning and design in 2012 for the rehabilitation of the 114-year-old brick sewer known as “Taggart Outfall” in Portland, Oregon. This project rehabilitated 3,700 feet of large-diameter brick tunnel — from 58 to 120 inches in diameter with depths varying from 20 to 100 feet — that occasionally runs under buildings and other features. The project was designed by Jacobs Engineering Group, with construction management and inspection provided by the City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services. The rehabilitation of the pipe was achieved via sliplining using a fiberglass-reinforced pipe (FRP). Only one viable location existed for the pipe insertion shaft; from that single point of entry, sliplining sections needed to be threaded through three major bends and a section of previously installed tunnel liner plate.

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President's Message Sept 2020

Before I introduce myself, I want to thank Adam for leading us through this tumultuous year. We had no idea what this year would bring, but Adam was the leader PNCWA needed. He is thoughtful, strong, and, most of all, kind. He carried us through with his stability, diligence, and grace. I am proud to follow in Adam’s footsteps and lead PNCWA forward.

My name is Haley Falconer and I am the Environmental Division Manager at the City of Boise, ID. I grew up in Montana, where I learned to value and protect the environment. When I studied environmental engineering in college, I knew that I could find meaningful work in something that I was good at and where I could make a difference in the world. I started volunteering for WEF in college and ultimately found PNCWA when I moved to Washington for grad school. Now, I live and work in Boise with my husband, two little boys, and rescue pup, Harriet.

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PNCWA Summit Series: In Their Own Words

From the PNCWA 2020 Conference Chairs

If this were a normal year, instead of penning a letter to our membership, we’d be in Spokane kicking off PNCWA 2020. But, this is definitely not a normal year. As soon as last year’s conference ended, we were full speed ahead planning for this year’s event in Spokane. It soon became more and more apparent that the annual conference we all know and love wouldn’t be possible this year. Like all of our other plans for 2020, after much consideration and deliberation, we finally made the tough call to cancel. Eliminating risk to the health, safety, and well-being of our membership stood at the center of that decision.

So, now what? 

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Next Chapter

Outgoing WEF Delegate Steven Drangsholt reflects on his time as a PNCWA Board of Directors Member.

When I joined the PNCWA Board in October 2013, I could never have imagined the journey that it would take me on. This experience has been one of the most incredible of my entire life. I am so grateful for each and every moment and experience I have had along the way. I have friendships all around the country now, thanks to being on the Board. These are people who have cared for me, helped me to grow, and shared countless memories with me. I wouldn’t trade the sacrifices, late nights, or difficult conversations for anything.

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Leadership Corner Sept 2020

Grit and Bear It: A Leader’s Ability to Weather the Unexpected

By Karen DeBaker

In the past few months, we’ve heard countless stories of heroes who have reached beyond their normal routine to support others in order to navigate a “new normal” way of life. As my 12-year-old starts 7th grade as a digital apprentice, I’m reminded of the heroes of the academic community and their role in nurturing our future leaders and water professionals. Like us, teachers quickly honed their abilities to adapt and pivot to online coaching, while adhering to a tome of strict achievement standards and exemplifying true grit.

I was inspired by a newsletter article I received from Mt. Tabor Middle School principal Tonya Arnold and her recommended leadership resource:
“I have watched my own three children this week reengage with school. And when I asked them how their week had gone so far last night over dinner, I was shocked and elated to hear that their first days back were positive. They were happy to see their teachers and their friends. There was joy in their voices and smiles on their faces. And even when the technology was unfamiliar, they persevered. They asked for help, they didn't give up. And it made me exceptionally thankful.”

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Government Affairs Committee Update Sept 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for Sept 2020.

Idaho (DEQ) is developing permitting guidance for Storm Water General Permits. You can find more information here.

Oregon continues to explore regulation of PFAS, especially as it pertains to firefighting foam. Here are some more articles related to PFAS.
Michigan's new PFAS rules: 5 things to know
PFAS and Private Well Owners: What You Need to Know
EPA Awards Nearly $5 Million for New Research on Managing PFAS in Agricultural and Rural Communities | US EPA
Call for Nominations: Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes

The PNCWA Board Reflects on a Year of Firsts and What Lies Ahead

The Annual Business Meeting held via Zoom on September 15 was well-attended and packed with information. Outgoing president, Adam McClymont, kicked off the meeting with a list of the past year’s accomplishments. Prior to the pandemic, PNCWA was already in the process of overhauling its budgeting and accounting processes. When COVID escalated, we drastically cut our program budgets and greatly reduced travel. Our committees developed and produced informative webinars. Those virtual opportunities will continue to grow and will be featured in the upcoming Summit Series.

PNCWA hit many firsts this year. We distributed WEF Wastewater Treatment Fundamental books to our sections. We formally made the Young Professional Representative Position a voting position. The Idaho Section created the new Pat Brown Memorial Scholarship. We planned a WEFMAX in Boise in 2021. The Construction Committee was made official with a Charter. And we will continue to experience more firsts as we navigate this new normal. The business meeting was followed by a fast-paced awards ceremony, complete with virtual applause, that recognized some of our incredible members for their hard work, dedication, and innovation in the face of adversity this past year. Check out the awards ceremony on the PNCWA YouTube channel. 

Join the PNCWA World Water Classic 6/60k Team!

World Water Classic 6/60kGreat news! This year we will be joining in on WEF’s virtual Water For People fundraiser, the World Water Classic 6/60k. You can participate on your own or with others in your area in the 6k run/walk or 60k bike to end walking for water anytime between Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 11.

For $25, you can participate in the 6k or 60k — or $40 for both, if you're feeling extra active! Registrants also will receive a Water For People adjustable running belt. Kids 12 and under are only $10! (Running belt not included for kids.) The World Water Classic is open to everyone. You do not have to attend WEFTEC Connect to participate.

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The PNCWA InFLOW Program Goes Year Round

Due to unforeseeable circumstances caused by COVID-19, the PNCWA InFLOW Committee has had to reimagine the InFLOW program. Last year, the inaugural InFLOW class had the opportunity to participate in the DePAVE project, present at the annual conference on their perspective of entering the water industry, and attend all conference days, including the expo fair and a number of networking events. The Annual PNCWA 2020 Conference was canceled and PNCWA pivoted to a virtual Summit Series over a six month period. This prevented us from being able to provide the incoming InFLOW class with the same program as the year before.

The Member Services Committee has taken this opportunity to realize one of the overarching goals of the InFLOW program, creating a year-long program that will prepare students and young professionals from under-represented groups for making the most out of their trip to conference. The year-long program will have five separate workshop sessions in preparation for the 2021 PNCWA Annual Conference, which are as follows:

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PNCWA Summit Series

While we may not be able to hold our conference this year, PNCWA still cares about our mission to provide education for our members. We are planning a series of five summits over the next five months to bring our members a line up of incredible speakers and virtual education events. The series kicks off at the annual business meeting on September 15th. More details to come!

The PNCWA Summit Series begins on September 30th on the topic of Communication. The speaker lineup includes water educators and communicators who will teach us about building public trust in our communities, creating effective messaging, as well as sharing case studies of engagement. Attend the first-ever PNCWA Summit and learn from amazing communicators in our region and across the country. To find more information about the topics, registration, or sponsorship opportunities visit the summit page

Government Affairs Committee Update August 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for August 2020.

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Racial and Social Justice Subcommittee Goals

We are committed to furthering the role of racial and social justice within the water/wastewater industry. To do so, the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association (PNCWA) has taken the step to create the Racial & Social Justice Subcommittee (RSJ) under the Member Services Committee (MSC) to empower PNCWA membership by providing education and resources, collaborating with impacted communities, and advocating for enduring racial and social justice in water resource organizations, programs, and projects that bring about lasting change. The inaugural Chair, Rob Lee, and Vice Chair, Brittany Downing, have volunteered to lead this subcommittee’s effort in pursuing 5 main goals:

  1. Focus on furthering the membership’s education on RSJ issues by providing an optional book club and quarterly LinkedIn posts with articles and additional resources related to RSJ.
  2. Engage and collaborate with other organizations and groups that are leaders in this effort to leverage ongoing studies, share ideas, and further community engagement.
  3. Partner with MSC and the Students and Young Professionals (S&YP) committees to focus on outreach to underrepresented communities and to provide mentorship opportunities.
  4. In the long-term, the subcommittee will take on a project that provides resources and leadership opportunities for impacted communities to improve their water/wastewater systems; and
  5. Partner with the Government Affairs Committee to potentially influence legislation.

Together, we can learn, grow, and make a real, lasting change in our community. If you're interested in joining the subcommittee, please contact Rob Lee.


Kristi Steiner has been selected as the WEF Outstanding YP Award winner. HUGE congrats and well deserved. Kristi has served WEF in so many ways through YP connections, PNCWA leadership, Water Leadership Institute, and the WEF-AWWA YP Summit. Please congratulate Kristi and join us digitally for the WEF Awards Ceremony during WEFTEC. 

We are also pleased to share that Brittany Burch, Isle Americas' Senior Program Manager, has been named to Water & Wastes Digest list of 2020 Young Professionals! Brittany Burch is active in the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association and takes a lot of pride in the InFLOW program — Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water — which aims to encourage more people of color and women to join the industry by engaging them through more hands-on experiences like attending the annual conference. Burch has said, “Engaging future leaders on an individual and personal level is one of the echoed sentiments of the next generation of workers, who are likely to push the digital transformation of the industry to the next level.” Check out the article and video

Challenge Accepted? Raise funds for PNCWA Scholarships!

Clean Water Services is putting up a challenge to raise $12,000 for the PNCWA Scholarship Fund. CWS will donate $1,500 if five additional utilities, consultants, or manufacturers match that amount, adding $9,000 to the fund. Clean Water Services will also match individual member donations up to $1,500 — another potential $3,000 for the fund.

The PNCWA Scholarship Committee, which supports students pursuing a professional career in the water quality field by awarding scholarships on an annual basis, would like to thank Clean Water Services for kicking off this challenge and for their generous donation. Award recipients receive complimentary one-year PNCWA and WEF memberships and are invited to attend the PNCWA Annual Conference, held each fall, the year the scholarship is awarded. Thanks in advance to all of those who can join!

Please send donations to: CWS PNCWA Scholarship Challenge, C/O Jennifer Byrn, PO Box 13158, Portland, OR 97213.

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Committee Spotlight: Utility Management

Check out this article on Asset Management submitted by the PNCWA Utility Management Committee.

Asset management is the practice of managing infrastructure capital assets to minimize the total cost of owning and operating those assets while delivering the service level customers desire. Asset management can be a valuable process to gain knowledge about the condition of system components when they need to be repaired and replaced, and costs over time. This can be useful for decision-making, budgeting, capital improvements planning, and funding for projects to sustain utilities. 

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Government Affairs Committee Update July 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for July 2020.

U.S. EPA Updates
In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed itself regarding Washington’s water quality standards, replacing water quality standards it adopted in 2016 with different standards. The new rules went into effect on June 12. Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) has challenged the reversal based on the process followed. A lawsuit has also been filed by 3rd parties against the EPA. In the meantime, WA DOE seeks preliminary comments on 5 individual variances related to PCBs in the Spokane River, driven by the 2016 water quality standards.

On May 18 the U.S. EPA issued for comment a TMDL for temperature for the Columbia and Snake Rivers spanning Washington and Oregon. The TMDL includes heat load allocations for NPDES permit holders directly discharging to these rivers (both OR and WA). Comments due July 21. Read the EPA document here. 

Oregon Drug Take-Back Program
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is proposing amendments to its administrative rules at OAR 340. DEQ is planning to adopt new rules to establish a drug take-back program. The Oregon legislature adopted HB 3273 (2019) establishing a drug take-back program in Oregon and requiring DEQ to adopt rules for that program. This program is a statewide product stewardship program for safely disposing of unused medications. DEQ expects to complete this rulemaking by the fall of 2020. Click here to learn more.

The Washington State DOE is holding the next General Permit for Nutrients on July 16. 

Mercury TMDL
EPA is reviewing public comments on EPA’s version of a Willamette Basin Mercury TMDL.

Oregon NPDES
Oregon DEQ has issued a 5-Year Issuance Plan for NPDES permits. 

LOCAL Infrastructure Act
A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate which would reinstate the advance refunding of municipal bonds. S. 4129, the Lifting Our Communities through Advanced Liquidity for Infrastructure Act, or LOCAL Infrastructure Act

US Stockholm Junior Water Prize Winner Hails From Washington

PNCWA is excited to announce that Zoe Gotthold, from Richland, WA, is the winner of the 2020 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP), the nation’s most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. Gotthold developed prototypes of devices that promote oil flocculation at the surface and increase the efficacy of traditional oil spill remediation techniques. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SJWP had to pivot to an online-only competition for the first time. Watch Gotthold’s video explanation of her research with this link.

Students from 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico competed in the national finals during a virtual event on June 20. Gotthold won $10,000 and will represent the United States at the international competition in August.

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Climate Impact Survey

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group is engaging staff and operators in the water sector in the broader Northwest region (WA, OR, ID, AK) in a series of conversations about how to plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change. With support from the Water Research Foundation, they will be organizing several focus group calls, followed by a series of webinars, which will include training on how to access and use regionally relevant climate data and tools. To support peer-to-peer learning, UW Climate Impacts Group also plans to include case studies from regional operators that showcase how climate science is being used in support of building climate resilient water systems across the Northwest.  

Please help UW Climate Impacts Group tailor these sessions to fit your needs and interests by completing this brief survey. They are interested in hearing from water utilities and operators of all stripes—including drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and combined utilities—and are hoping to focus on small- to medium-sized utilities (serving populations <200,000).

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