Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy: Event #3 Recap - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy: Event #3 Recap

Asset Management

The 2021 edition of the Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy finished strong on Thursday, August 19. A sincere thanks to all of our speakers who made the event informative and, dare we say it, inspirational! Click here to view a recording of this event or read the transcript, and continue reading for a recap of the day’s presentations:  

  • First, Paul May from Northwest Suburban Municipal JAWA provided an overview of the ISAWWA Water Ambassador Program, which aims to elevate public perception, knowledge, and consumer education for the water industry. 
  • Next, Mayor Katrina Thompson from the Village of Broadview (also, co- director of the Broadview-Westchester Joint Water Agency) discussed her administration’s asset management strategy as it relates to livability and quality of life. She discussed the need to be diligent in maintaining the system – before small problems become big ones – to protect public safety and the environment. Mayor Thompson provided an example of community engagement, conducting approximately ten community meetings to discuss proposed water rate changes and to listen to residents’ concerns in the interest of transparent decision-making. 
  • Then Carolyn Grieves from Baxter & Woodman reminded us that nothing lasts forever! Asset management lengthens asset life, optimizes maintenance and renewal, and helps communities prepare strategies. The steps are relatively simple: Know what you have, Know the condition, Identify priorities, and Make a plan! This can include fancy software and technology, but that’s not necessary; water operators and other public works staff are likely your greatest resource. The important thing is for municipal leaders to change their mindset so that, although out of sight, these vital assets are not out of mind. Click here to view Carolyn Grieves’s slides. 
  • Next up, the panel discussion, moderated by Jed Kim from American Public Media, covered a wide range of topics related to aging water infrastructure and asset management. The worst thing municipalities can do, said George Hawkins, is to wait for things to fail. That strategy works for your home dishwasher or air conditioning unit, but the magnitude and potential risk if critical water infrastructure fails means municipalities don’t have the same luxury. The panelists discussed many things (click here to view the recording) and reminded us that asset management goes beyond infrastructure and includes things like better business practices, asking vendors for more efficient options or increased service life, developing trust and transparency with community, workforce development, and benefiting local residents and businesses through MBE/WBE/DBE clauses. 
  • Finally, MPC wrapped up the discussion with a reminder to apply for our Drinking Water 1-2-3 Technical Assistance program. We know these things are tough – water affordability, lead service line replacement, asset management – but MPC wants to be your partner in this fight. 

Thanks, again, to all of our funders, sponsors, speakers, and attendees who made it a fantastic Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy! 

Speaker Bios:

Kareem Adeem (Panelist)
Director, Department of Water & Sewer Utilities, City of Newark
Director Adeem is a Newark native who began working for Newark in 1991 in the Department of Engineering and has moved up the ladder in his field. In 2013, Director Adeem was elevated to Superintendent of Maintenance Operations, where he oversaw daily maintenance operations of the Department of Water & Sewer Utilities. He earned a  promotion to Assist Director in 2016 and Acting Director position in 2018. 
He was a key player in various municipal Infrastructure projects, including the installation of new corrosion control. In addition, the most aggressive lead service replacement program in the nation. Pequannock Water Treatment Plant Upgrades, Water Main Replacement, Rehabilitation projects, Small diameter sewer assessment and rehabilitation, Queen Ditch Restoration Project helped address chronic flooding Frelinghuysen Avenue has plagued the area for more than 30 years. Director Adeem is credited with rebuilding and rebrand Water & Sewer Utilities. By upgrading the water and sewer infrastructure, the City works to replace every lead service line, Upgrade to its water treatment plant, and the Long term control program (LTCP). He is a dedicated public servant who has and continues to give back to his native community. 

Carolyn A. Grieves, P.E. (Presenter)
Region Manager & Associate VP, Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers

Carolyn Grieves P.E., Baxter & Woodman, Inc. Following graduation from the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana with a Bachelor in Science in Civil Engineering, Carolyn went on to obtain a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa. Carolyn began working for Baxter & Woodman, Inc. after graduation and has focused on the planning and design of water supply, treatment and distribution systems. Carolyn is currently Baxter & Woodman’s Crystal Lake Regional Manager and Associate Vice President of the Water Group. Carolyn is an active volunteer with Illinois Section American Water Works Association (ISAWWA) and is a Board Past-Chair.

George S. Hawkins, Esq. (Panelist)
Founder & President, Moonshot Missions
George Hawkins launched his innovation-focused enterprises Moonshot Missions after stepping down as CEO of DC Water, where he served for eleven years.  George helps agencies identify and adopt strategies to deliver better service and lower cost. 

George transformed DC Water into an innovative enterprise while tripling its investment in clean water.  DC Water’s innovations ranged from Green Infrastructure to a $500 million investment in clean energy.  DC Water issued the first century bond, first environmental impact bond, and spearheaded programs to support low-income customers and provide for local workforce development. 

Joseph Kane (Panelist)
Metropolitan Policy Program Fellow, Brookings Institution
Joseph Kane’s work focuses on a wide array of built environment issues, including transportation and water infrastructure. Within these areas of research, Kane has explored infrastructure’s central economic role across different regions as well as its relationship to opportunity and resilience. 

Across several projects, Kane has coordinated the production of new metrics and developed other interactive content to better inform decisions by policymakers and practitioners across the country. Kane’s recent work has explored transportation and placemaking, climate investment, and federal infrastructure policy. Kane also continues to examine challenges and opportunities facing the country’s infrastructure workforce and its essential workforce more broadly—including water workers and energy workers. Prior to Brookings, Kane was an economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Kane holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from the College of William and Mary. 

Jed Kim (Panel Moderator)
Podcast Host, American Public Media
Jed Kim is a public radio reporter, producer and host. He has covered environmental and sustainability stories for Southern California Public Radio and Marketplace. He hosted the first season of "In Deep," a podcast from American Public Media that focuses on the state of the nation's water infrastructure. He gets really excited at the prospect of touring sewers and wastewater treatment facilities.  

Jed is also the co-creator and co-host of the "Million Bazillion" podcast from Marketplace, which aims to teach kids about money. It's an important task, because someday he'll probably need to borrow money from them.


Paul D. May, P.E. (Presenter)
Executive Director, Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency
May is the Executive Director for the Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (NSMJAWA), which serves water to 500,000 consumers in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Mr. May is a licensed Professional Engineer and Certified Water Operator, and has over 25 years of experience as a civil engineer, public works director, and utility administrator.  Mr. May holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Valparaiso University and a MBA from the University of Wisconsin.  Mr. May has been serving NSMJAWA since 2015. 
Mr. May has a lifelong passion for water resources and has been honored to be a part of several advisory groups which have assisted in defining the direction for the future of water use in our region, including work with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), and the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT).  Mr. May has authored publications and frequently presented to the AWWA, regional councils of government, and legislative advisory groups on water-related matters, including serving as an advisor to the CMAP On to 2050 regional planning document.  Mr. May currently is a member of the CMAP Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the MPC Water Resources Steering Committee.

Mayor Katrina Thompson (Keynote)
Village of Broadview, Illinois
First elected the sixth Mayor of the Village of Broadview in a five-person race with 44% of the vote in 2017, Katrina Thompson became the village’s first African-American female mayor. In the 2021 election against a former mayor, Mayor Thompson was elected to a second term with 71% of the vote. Beyond the Village of Broadview, Ms. Thompson has served and serves on multiple public service boards and commissions, including: Co- Chair Broadview Westchester Joint Water Agency, Chair, Metropolitan Mayor Caucus Housing & Community Development Committee; Past President of the Proviso Municipal League; Cook County Land Bank Board of Directors; Triton College Foundation Board, among others.   

Prior to becoming Mayor, Ms. Thompson served as the Executive Director of the West Humboldt Park Development Council and as the Executive Director at the Broadview Park District. For her community involvement and dedicated public service, Ms. Thompson has received numerous commendations, awards, and recognitions, including: The Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Award in 2017 and in 2019 and an appointment as an Executive Fellow at the Erickson Institute McCormick Foundation. Ms. Thompson received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Concordia University and Master of Arts Degree from Roosevelt University. 


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