We’re putting a bow on the third year of Solving Water: A Xylem Podcast, which launched in 2019 and covers timely topics across the global water industry. We couldn’t celebrate this great milestone without our listeners – both new and longstanding.
I am Amanda Holloway, and as your Solving Water host, I’d like to share my personal gratitude for you and the opportunity you’ve given me to continue doing something I love, while providing timely and important content about the water industry.
2021 proved to be another collection of fantastic interviews, some of which were recorded live and in-person, making the experience that much more special. Here are some of the most memorable podcasts of 2021 in no particular order:
- Connecting the Dots Between Climate Change and Clean Water with Dr. Stephanie Smith, Product Segment Manager at YSI. Speaking with Dr. Smith is always a delight and an eye-opener; she has a gift for breaking down highly technical and scientific topics into digestible – and actionable – information. This discussion confirms that view, as she deftly lays out the direct ties’ climate change has to our water supply, and the lesser-known factors connecting the two.
Many of us are keenly aware of the effects of climate change, including intense natural disasters (storms, flooding, freezing, etc.), but fewer of us understand how results of climate change such as drought, wildfires and soil sedimentation impact our global water resources. This is where Dr. Smith shines; she talks through these hidden consequences of climate change caused by stormwater runoff, erosion and harmful algal blooms, among others, and how they’re becoming increasingly common.
What I enjoy most about Dr. Smith’s approach to water quality and climate change is how her deep expertise, passion for problem solving and calm demeanor come together to present practical and achievable paths forward for Xylem, and for anyone who wants to solve water. Listen now.
- How One Water Utilities Leader Started the Transformation to Smart Infrastructure with Nicole Pasch, Client Solutions Manager, Xylem. At Xylem, we’re fortunate to have a team of amazing experts across the globe. Pasch is one such employee, who joined Xylem in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing with her an enormous repertoire of experience as the head of the water utility in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Pasch takes us through her impressive background with Grand Rapids, starting as a professional in the field through to her leadership of the utility’s digital transformation, which resulted in operational and efficiency cost savings, and continues to have positive effects on personnel, ratepayers and the environment.
Her role with Xylem and at Grand Rapids gives her a unique perspective that she shares for the benefit of industry colleagues and water utility professionals alike. Pasch provides pointed advice for utilities interested in digitalization, including where and how to begin, as well as the value a water technology partner like Xylem can add to the process. Listen now.
- Next up is the three-part series on digital technology and smart infrastructure in utilities I conducted with Colin Sabol, SVP and President of Measurement and Control Solutions at Xylem. Each episode focuses on a different essential component for utilities to successfully evolve their operations:
The Digital Transformation of Water Utilities with Colin Sabol
The Critical Role of Resilience in Infrastructure Planning and Disaster Response
The Benefits of Shared Technological Integration for Water Utilities
As the leader of our Sensus business, which deals largely in smart metering and smart technologies for both the water and energy segments, Sabol has a robust viewpoint about bridging the two sides of water infrastructure – clean water and wastewater. He discusses how implementing smart technologies at both ends of the water cycle delivers data that can inform decisions leading to everything from greater operational efficiency to more informed ratepayers. There truly is something for everyone in this series, which will be further expanded upon in our upcoming Solving Water series recorded live at Xylem REACH 2021.
- Raising Smart Water Infrastructure Awareness in Washington with Mark Handzel and Eric Sapirstein. Mark Handzel, Xylem’s former VP of Government Affairs, who retired in late March, introduced me to Xylem’s Federal Policy Advocate Eric Sapirstein, with ENS Resources. This conversation was enlightening for me in two key ways: first, it provided insight into the important work Xylem is doing to advance the water industry as a whole; and second, it gave me a new appreciation for what a day in the life is like as an advocate working in Washington D.C.
At the time, the now passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was just beginning to take shape. Xylem, in partnership with ENS Resources and other industry and government leaders, worked to shine a light on the critical importance of not only upgrading the nation’s water systems, but also investing in smart water infrastructure (SWI) to improve the longevity, efficacy and efficiency of those upgrades.
Handzel and Sapirstein explained the process of raising awareness of SWI with legislators, which requires a concerted effort among environmental groups, public and private utilities, manufacturers/suppliers and consumers. Now, almost a year later, this new piece of legislation will undoubtedly change the water industry in myriad ways, and Xylem is mobilizing to help our colleagues, customers and partners navigate these changes. Check back with Solving Water in early 2022 for an update on this monumental work from Sapirstein and Xylem’s new Director, Government and Industry Relations, Joshua Mahan. Listen now.
Finally, I’d like to highlight two episodes – both involving the same guest(s). George Hawkins, Founder and CEO of Moonshot Missions, strategic advisor to Xylem and former head of DC Water, joined me via Zoom in February in a discussion titled, “Modernizing Water Utilities in D.C. & Beyond.” Eight months later, I had the great fortune of meeting George and his wife Natalie, COO of Moonshot Missions, in person at WEFTEC 2021 in Chicago. They agreed to sit down with me for an impromptu update on what’s happening at their innovative nonprofit, and the exciting work they have planned to transform water accessibility, affordability and sustainability for communities with the greatest need. That episode is called, “What’s Next for the Water Industry with George and Natalie Hawkins of Moonshot Missions.” Please find links to both shows below.
First, it must be stated that the passion George and Natalie have for water is incredible. George is sheer energy and leading voice for the water sector, and Natalie’s strong and steadfast guidance and dedication to Moonshot’s mission make them a veritable force in the industry.
In February, when I interviewed George solo, he shared how his dedication to solving water began in Washington D.C. as the leader of DC Water – the district’s water utility. He took that organization through a comprehensive rebranding that also spurred the ideation and launch of Moonshot Missions with the mission, “…to serve as trusted peer advisors to transform the water sector, ensuring the delivery of clean water and to protect the environment and public health in an affordable way.” It’s safe to say George and Natalie both embody this mission.
My discussion with George and Natalie in Chicago included just as much, if not more, enthusiasm for solving water. They talked about several projects they’re working on, and how they’re helping utilities navigate digital transformation, especially with the recent infrastructure legislation passed. Listen to the Feb episode. Listen to the Nov episode.
It wasn’t an easy task to single out my top five episodes of 2021, as I learn so much from every conversation I’m privileged to have. You can access the full Solving Water library on our host site solvingwater.podbean.com. Solving Water: A Xylem Podcast is also available anywhere you get your audio content, including Spotify, Apple and Google, covering a wide range of topics focused on water from environmental to industrial and everything in between.
On behalf of everyone here at Xylem, thanks for your continued support, and have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.