Looking Back on 2020: Reflecting on the Water Infrastructure Committee’s Accomplishments

Vel Subramanian, PhD, PE, BCEE, Water Infrastructure Communications and Outreach Sub Committee Chair, reflects on the committee's many accomplishments in 2020.
The new year is upon us. We are almost through 2020, one of the most challenging years in our lifetimes. COVID-19 has changed the way we do things and pushed us to explore new tools, technologies and approaches to conducting business. Teleworking and virtual meetings are the new normal. On a positive note, they have allowed us to have greater participation and increase our collaboration among ACEC/MW members and municipal partners. I want to take this opportunity to thank the ACEC/MW staff and members for rising to the occasion and finding a way to virtually meet, communicate and collaborate to achieve the ACEC mission. 
The Water Infrastructure Committee has been dedicated and unwavering despite the obstacles. This year, the Water Infrastructure has accomplished much:
  • First, congratulations to Arthur Jones-Dove, our previous Water Infrastructure Committee Chair, on becoming a member of the ACEC/MW Board of Directors. Thanks to Aaron Briggs for becoming our new WI Committee Chair and taking on the challenge of leading us through this difficult year. 
  • Our first major event of 2020 was the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Loads) Symposium, held on February 19th at the College Park Marriott & Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD. The symposium offered the unique opportunity to learn more about the different approaches being used to meet the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) and TMDL goals in our region. The symposium featured excellent presentations from a great slate of speakers from six government agencies: Anne Arundel County, DC Department of Energy and Environment, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County and Virginia Department of Transportation. 126 attendees from ACEC member organizations and government agencies participated in the symposium
  • Our partnering sessions with municipal agencies have been successful this year. Since the meetings are now virtual, more ACEC/MW members have been able to participate. We had virtual partnering meetings with Fairfax Water, DC Water, the City of Alexandria and Arlington County. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, we had an in-person partnering meeting with WSSC on January 29, 2020. These agencies have shared about their upcoming projects and their procurement processes. In the meetings, ACEC/MW was also able to share its thoughts and inputs to the mutual benefit of both ACEC and municipal agencies. Thanks to Aaron Briggs, our committee chair, who has been promptly distributing the agendas and copies of the presentations from these partnering sessions. 
  • The ACEC/MW Virtual Water and Wastewater Live Event held on August 27th was one of our biggest accomplishments this year. We were able to put together this meeting virtually to feature some of the finest Civil Engineering professionals in the nation. 191 attendees participated in this meeting, which surpassed past years. The event focused on learning more about the water authorities in the Washington Metropolitan area, including their current projects, 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), and future project opportunities. Representatives from DC Water, Loudon Water, Fairfax County DPWES, and WSSC Water gave presentations, the ACEC/MW Meritorious Award recipient was recognized (congrats again to Mike Harmer of WSSC Water!), and the event concluded with an engaging moderated panel discussion. Thanks to Norelis Florentino who wrote an excellent Blog titled “Virtual Water/Wastewater Industry Power” covering this meeting in great detail.
  • During this teleworking time, when we don't see each other in person, to provide a platform for our members to network and support each other, we launched “Wine Down Wednesday.” Our inaugural event was held on May 27, and it was a successful event. Please see the Blog on “Wine Down Wednesday, Our New Virtual Networking Event!” by Hanif Drzal and Jenny Bowers for more information.   
  • Another successful event we had this year was ACEC/MW's inaugural Scholarship Golf Tournament held on October 14th at 1757 Golf Club in Dulles, Virginia. More than 80 golfers filled the course and contributed to the raffles and other activities
Our events and activities highlighted above make us proud of what we have accomplished this year. COVID-19 has not stopped our normal activities but rather helped us learn in new ways and have a successful year. We, at the ACEC/MW Water Infrastructure Committee, want to thank you all for the successful year and wish you happy holidays. 

Vel Subramanian, PhD, PE, BCEE, is a project director for Atkins for its Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Division at Alexandria office, VA. He also serves as an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the George Washington University and the Department of Civil and Infrastructure Engineering at the George Mason University. He holds a MS degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Oklahoma at Norman and a PhD degree in Environmental Engineering from Oklahoma State University at Stillwater. Dr. Subramanian has over 30 years of experience in water and wastewater engineering.


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