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Thousands of water professionals flock to Toronto to learn about the future of water

Toronto host site for American Water Works Association's annual conference and exposition

June 13, 2023  By Ground Water Canada

Toronto – An estimated 10,000 water professionals from throughout the world have gathered at the Enercare Centre in Toronto to kick off the American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE23) and collaborate on creating a sustainable and resilient future for the water community.

ACE23, June 11-14, features 20 professional learning tracks and 126 sessions, including 29 sessions that will be streamed virtually. An exposition showcases more than 450 water technology providers and innovators in more than 900 booths. The event also features several competitions, including the Best of the Best Water Taste Test, in which regional tap water taste champions compete for the best tasting water in North America; and the Pipe Tapping competition, in which water utility teams race against one another to swiftly drill into a water pipe and deliver water to a tap.

The packed opening general session featured a presentation by disruption strategist and best-selling author Shawn Kanungo, who spoke on the theme of “Creating the Future Together” by integrating concepts from AWWA’s Water 2050 initiative to explore how organizations and individuals can become more adaptable, experimental, and collaborative in navigating the future. The old adage that knowledge is power will shift to “boldness is power” in the age of artificial intelligence, he said, adding that “the most valuable job today is actually being a value creator, an innovator.”


In a morning address, AWWA president Joe Jacangelo reminded water professionals that their mission makes a difference every day.

“You are all in essence, public health practitioners,” he said.

Anishinaabe indigenous rights and water advocate Autumn Peltier from the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ont., opened the general session by providing a land acknowledgment, sharing her water story, and welcoming attendees to the conference.

“The water needs all of you, and we all need water,” she said. “Water is life.”

David LaFrance, AWWA CEO, used ChatGPT onstage to demonstrate the power of AI and the importance of water professionals in creating original knowledge.

“Water professionals sharing best practices with one another will not change,” he said. “Our role will be more important. What we do here at AWWA and at other water associations – it’s going to become more important.”

This conference theme is “ACE23: The Future of Water is 2050,” which aligns with AWWA’s Water 2050 initiative seeking to establish a long-term vision for the future of water. This collaborative exploration is charting a course for a successful and sustainable water sector.

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