Raftelis actively involved at UMC 2021

August 03, 2021

Raftelis is looking forward to playing a major role at this year’s Utility Management Conference (UMC). The conference will be held in Atlanta, GA on August 3-6. A number of Raftelis personnel will be attending, and several of our staff members will be giving presentations or moderating sessions at the conference. These presentations are listed below, and we hope that you will be able to attend if you are at the conference. For more information visit the AWWA website.

Tuesday, August 3

Trending in an instant: A risk communications guide for water utilities

Samantha Villegas, APR, Director of Strategic Communication Services

Sam will be co-facilitating this half-day workshop. Utility leaders need to be prepared to respond to the increasingly visible and sensational communication challenges around water. Explore the psychology of risk communication and learn targeted tools and actions to respond before, during, and after a high-profile issue.

Wednesday, August 4

Opening General Session: AWWA Welcome

Melissa Elliott, APR, Vice President and AWWA Immediate Past President

Melissa will be offering a welcome to AWWA’s first in-person conference since March 2020 and focusing on the unprecedented optimism that is buoying the water sector at this time.

Bending the curve: A strategic approach to reducing utility debt

Peiffer Brandt, President and CEO and Birmingham Water Works Board

Like many utilities, Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) faces challenges replacing aging infrastructure, a customer base stressed by rising water service costs, and system growth needs to support the local economy. Unlike many utilities, they are burdened with more than $950 million in long-term debt. Peiffer will be sharing how BWWB’s commitment to reduce long-term debt by 25% in the next 10 years is unique.

A reputation built in 60 years, gone in 60 seconds: How to get it back

Samantha Villegas, APR, Director of Strategic Communication Services and Daphne Utilities

Water and wastewater utilities are particularly vulnerable to public attack due to the critical role they play in protecting public health and the environment. Sam will be presenting with Daphne Utilities (Alabama), which suffered a swift and severe reputational hit after a reporting failure resulted in a Consent Decree, but they rebuilt public trust and their own credibility using strategic communication and public outreach techniques.

Understanding and adapting to the needs of a changing customer base

Melissa Levin, Vice President and Jon Davis, Executive Vice President with Gwinnett County

In recent years, Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources (GCDWR) noted increasing numbers of customers that regularly have service locked off due to non-payment. Melissa and Jon will examine the relationship between demographics, water usage, leak adjustments, household income and age, home ownership, and lock-offs across the County to determine how best to assist customers.

Emerald City affordability: Using the latest approaches and techniques to demonstrate affordability challenges in Seattle

Joe Crea, Vice President with Seattle Public Utilities

Joe will discuss how Seattle Public Utilities has incorporated considerations for household affordability into their long-range planning for the water, wastewater, and drainage systems.

Clean water and clear regulations – A regional, collaborative approach by regulated jurisdictions

Jennifer Tavantzis, Manager

Since 2011, jurisdictions within the Falls Lake Watershed in North Carolina have been regulated under the Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy (“Falls Rules”). Regulated entities found meeting the requirements enshrined in the Falls Rules to be difficult to infeasible, resulting in missed implementation deadlines. In this presentation Jennifer will demonstrate how a coalition of entities ranging from small rural towns to much larger cities and counties joined forces to improve water quality and influence water quality regulation from the local level.

Friday, August 6

Getting the right people on the bus – even when no one is waiting in line

Catherine Tuck Parrish, Vice President

Catherine leads our executive recruitment practice and she’s focused on getting the right people in the right positions because it is critical to a utility’s success. Her session will focus on identifying best practices in recruiting the best talent for C-level positions in your utility.