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🗣️ The Future of WEF

Words on Water

Photo by Evangeline Shaw / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Jamie Eichenberger | President | WEF
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[8:51] “I think it's really important to have younger voices coming through [in the water industry]. […] And it's one of those things that I think there's a lot of passion that comes with it and unique perspective. So we've been working a lot around diversity, equity, inclusion across the water sector. And part of that does have to do with generation. […] We have a different life experience. We grew up with different technologies. We think about things a different way. But most importantly, I think getting people in who haven't been in the echo chamber as long. The most important question they asked is why. Why don't we do it that way? Or have you thought about this? And coming up with those I think is really key to keeping us nimble, and allowing us to move a little faster into the future.”

[12:28] “Our big initiative in the coming year is going to be redoing our strategic plan. […] I was trying to reflect on what changed in [the last 10 years]. Smartphones were relatively new, only about a third of people had an iPhone in their hand. iPads had just been released. And you can still go to a Blockbuster Video and rent a DVD. […] So the other thing that happened is WEF came out with its last strategic plan. So we've updated it a couple times, most recently in 2018, to specifically address the need for diversity, equity and inclusion. But especially coming out of the last few years, all the disruption, all the changes around COVID, the virtualization and those types of things, what we're seeing is a need for really a bold new strategy. So we can be just as successful moving forward, as we have been for the past almost 100 years. […] We kicked it off in July. It's going to be a year long effort. […] Workforce, I think, is our number one challenge. Infrastructure, investment and financing is going to be really important.

[14:20] “WEF has a water advocates program. Everyone should join to […] show your support for the need for infrastructure funding. […] I think [this year] we're looking at at least a 30% boost in water infrastructure financing on the federal level. […] But honestly, I'm a little worried about, […] we're gonna get all this financing in place and then we have to do it. The financing if it’s available, we've said that's what we need to move forward. So let's make sure we have that workforce in place. And we got the leadership in place that we need to be able to get those projects planned, designed, constructed and operating.”

[15:17] “We have a renewed emphasis on biosolids. […] Biosolids are a great resource, tremendously valuable, but with PFAS, and other micro constituents and things, there's always a threat to how we're going to dispose of that. So just getting that communications out there. […] WEF put together a biosolids communication toolkit recently.”

[16:16] “[Some members of] our traditional membership, communicators, strategic communications, public outreach communication, public information, officers haven't always been at the table. So one thing I'm really excited to work on over this next year is making sure that they feel like they have a place at WEF. We've been a silent industry for way too long. We, for a long time, felt like no news was good news. If there was ever anything to do with drinking water or wastewater it is because of a service outage. So we never wanted to see that. But what we found is we can't do that anymore. We need to be proactive. We need to get out there. We do great work as an industry, we protect public health, we protect the water environment, we're anchor institutions for our communities, often one of the largest employers in a lot of areas. So why are we talking about that?”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Jamie Eichenberger on His Journey to WEF President")
🕰️ 19 min | 🗓️ 11/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 17 min