In every industry there is a group of influencers setting the tone for change. Municipal water is no different. Bluefield’s team of water experts is heading to Denver next week for ACE19, the largest drinking water conference in the U.S., joining over 11,000 other water industry colleagues. In preparation, we analyzed the conference agenda, including 838 presenters and 351 companies. Our view is that the sector is becoming more competitive, influence is valuable, and companies are positioning themselves as such.
So, whether you are off to Colorado or sitting this one out, Bluefield Research wants to be your eyes and ears. This is our initial take on the conference to help us help you.
Ranking the Influencers: Top 25 Companies by ACE19 Presentations
Source: AWWA, Bluefield Research
- Engineering firms control conference proceedings. Of the 838 conference presentations, 38% are associated with engineering, procurement, and construction companies (EPC). Among the Top 25 presenting companies, 16 are engineering firms. This is consistent with our water experts’ take on EPCs playing gatekeepers to vendors seeking to penetrate water and wastewater utilities.
- CDM Smith ranks as the biggest influencer this year. CDM Smith takes the top spot with 33 separate presentations, followed by Carollo Engineers, Hazen and Sawyer, Jacobs, and Arcadis. As the municipal sector transitions to address emerging challenges (e.g. PFAS) and solutions (e.g. digital water), these companies are poised to play key roles in procurement decisions.
- Utilities influence conversation. Both public and private water utilities fall in the top 10 with Denver Water at no. 6 and American Water at no. 7. Outside of the top 25, Colorado Springs Utilities, DC Water and Sewer, and LADWP also make the top 40. In conversations with clients across the value chain, focus on understanding utilities’ needs is becoming more complex, so their larger presence gives attendees several opportunities to hear their perspectives.
- Does the presence of EPA and CDC in the top 25 reinforce industry’s focus water quality? Questions abound about role of federal agencies in today’s political climate. While consent decrees may soon wane because of recent administrative policies, PFAS is in the news every day. It will be interesting to share perspectives with colleagues from the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency.
- 65% of the speakers at AWWA ACE19 are men. Of the 838 speakers at the conference, 547 are male and 291 are female. While this may reflect the water industry today, the role of women in water is changing for the better. This was recently demonstrated at Women in Water, an event in California at the end of 2018 that attended by Bluefield’s Erin Bonney. We hope to continue to see more diversity at future water conferences.