Wellspring Conference IV

Presented by PureBlue

The 2019 conference brought together around 100 water operators, experts, business leaders, entrepreneurs and policy makers from the Puget Sound region and beyond. The event provided a forum to share ideas and identify sustainable, integrated and inclusive solutions to critical water challenges.

Wellspring was an incredibly fulfilling event for the communities of the PNW Region!

Nearly 100 people participated in representing water utilities, government agencies, industry, entrepreneurial start-ups, investors, non-profits, universities, and inspiring students. The day was filled with informative presentations by outstanding speakers and engaged attendee participation at our Roundtable discussions invited new perspectives, actionable insights and comprehensive smart water solutions to the water-related issues facing our region.

We truly appreciate the great levels of contribution, generosity, and teamwork from our Committee, Speakers, Partners, Participants, Event planners, Hotel Murano, and all of our supporters. Thank you for a successful community collaboration!


Speakers in three morning panel sessions discussed scaling integrated and sustainable one-water solutions, the cross-sector benefits of improving stormwater and Green Infrastructure (GI) management, and the challenges of building innovation and entrepreneurship in BlueTech. The event began with a presentation by Professor Bruce Rittman on cutting-edge advances in the science of wastewater treatment, making the technologies both cleaner and revenue-generating. In particular, he focused on our readiness for P and N recovery and energy capture in treatment using activated sludge.

Biju George provided a second keynote presentation on DC Water’s successful integration of innovation into their business strategy through efforts in digital transformation, machine learning, open data management, Advanced Metering Infrastructure, asset management and customer-engagement tools. A summary of the panel presentations is included in this report, drawing on the key questions raised by participants and resulting discussion (Annex 2). Keynote and panel presentations from the day are also available upon request from PureBlue.

The afternoon sessions included roundtables and a networking event. During the Peer to Peer Smart Solution Roundtables, participants worked together on the barriers and potential collaborations that could provide solutions to the following four key areas of innovation across the water sector: 1) intelligent digital solutions; 2) long term operation and maintenance; 3) stormwater and wastewater as a resource, and 4) watershed-scale and One Water approaches. Each roundtable presented conclusions in plenary, and wider participant input was provided.


Table Topic 1

Intelligent digital solutions for stormwater and wastewater management

  • Increasing inspection costs
  • Ensuring proper AMI implementation
  • Lack of city-wide digital network planning

Table Topic 2

Innovative solutions in stormwater, green infrastructure, and wastewater considering longer-term operation and maintenance

  • Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) effectiveness is unknown
  • Uncertainties around O&M of GSI
  • Aging workforce and infrastructure

Table Topic 3

Stormwater and wastewater as a resource, and associated market and policy challenges

  • Clean water pricing and actual costs are not aligned
  • Mismatch in demand and delivery due to seasonal variability and geography

Table Topic 4

One Water: systems thinking, watershed-scale approaches, and opportunities for trading, cost optimization, and innovation

  • Lack of leadership to transition agendas to actions in integrated water management
  • Regulatory variations between jurisdictions
  • Overly centralized systems


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