The American Water Works Association was established in 1881 but its work has never been more important than it is today, as the relationship between water, public health, global economics and quality of life are laid out in ever-more stark relief on this billions-of-people planet.

AWWA’s ACE14, its annual conference and exhibition is taking place this week in Boston, red brick and academic- minded, June 8 – 12 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. It is one of the few events you may attend in the United States at present where dispensing cups of water can be a marketing statement. One of the most popular features at the event is the “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste test and Pipe Tapping competition.

Its approximately 50,000 members in 43 chapter sections include treatment plant operators, researchers, engineers, academics, suppliers and more than 4,000 utilities serving 80 percent of the U.S. population.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani was the keynote speaker addressing, based on his own wealth of experience, security concerns facing communities, as well as addressing the risk facing America’s water and wastewater infrastructure, while inspiring the water community to rise to the challenge of leading U.S. utilities down the road to infrastructure renewal.

And that is really the elephant in the room – how to pay for needed infrastructure renewal in the United States in an era of sluggish economy. In the meantime, those most interested in these issues will attend ACE, suppliers will continue to use the latest technology to address water issues and operations managers will do their best with the hand they’re dealt. That is, at least until the water runs out.

We’ll look to share what we learned at ACE14 in upcoming issues of Water/Waste Processing magazine and our Water/Waste Processing industry newsletters.