KAMUELA, Hawaii – The Hawaii Rural Water Association held its first annual conference Nov. 2-4 at Wailea Beach, Maui. The conference is a major milestone for the association, which was incorporated on December 2, 2010.
“It was amazing for our first year,” said Mahana Gomes, HRWA Executive Director.
HRWA partnered with the Hawaii Water Works Association for the conference. Over 200 water professionals attended, including 24 vendors.
The conference also featured the first Hawaii Water Taste Test. Consolidated Base Yard of Maui was named Hawaii’s best Tasting Water, and will be the first Hawaii utility to compete in the Great American Water Taste Test.
The Great American Water Taste Test will be held on Feb. 8, 2017 in Washington, D.C. as part of the annual Rural Water Rally.
Presentations at the conference included keynotes from Dr. Ka’eo Duarte and Josh Stanbro, who have been working on a large collaborative project called A Blueprint for Hawaii’s Future. Technical presentations included Dan Cortinovis Wastewater expert, Neal Fujii and Reinhard Sturm, Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management, Dr. Duranceau, University of Central Florida and Erica Perez, Coral Reef Alliance. The program also included opportunities for water and wastewater professionals to share stories and collaborate on ways to move forward in a more united and community based method.
“We really tried to create a feel of community and validation of the importance of all the work we do,” Gomes explained. “The water and wastewater communities have a lot of responsibility and a lot of authority when it comes to our water resource.”
Response to the first conference has been very positive.
“Everyone that came up to us said that it was a great event,” Gomes said. “The feeling was very uplifting.”
Several special guests attended the Hawaii conference including Mayor of Maui Alan Arakawa, National Rural Water Association President Steve Fletcher, NRWA Chief Financial Officer Claudette Atwood and Executive Director of the California Rural Water Association Dan DeMoss.
“A big Mahalo to everyone that supported us for this first annual conference,” Gomes said, using the Hawaiian word for thanks. “There was a lot of support and a lot of sacrifice made in order to make this first conference successful.”
Hawaii Rural Water is already making plans for their second conference, which will be Nov. 1-3, 2017 on the Big Island.
“Everyone is joking around the office that we can’t believe our first annual is just barely over and we’re already into the next one,” Gomes said. “We’re very excited for the second annual conference.”