Water industry leaders from across the globe gathered in the United States city of Chicago, Illinois at the 94th WEFTEC. The ASTERRA team showed up in force to welcome stakeholders and an amazing rescue dog to their booth. Our team lead discussions with conference guests and hosted a gathering to connect leaders of Israeli startups with water experts and other dignitaries. WEFTEC 2021 is the first major in-person water sector event in two years, and it was great to be back.
Many water utilities work with ASTERRA’s Recover technology for leak detection in their distribution systems. Reps from some of these water utilities attended the conference, and ASTERRA also took this opportunity to meet with partners. On Monday, ASTERRA met with Esri to look ahead at the 2022 conferences and opportunities for both companies to work together.
Also on Monday, ASTERRA joined with Kando to host a reception with the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry where they invited US water and technology stakeholders of all kinds to a networking event. Kando is an innovative digital solution that supports improved wastewater quality, the efficiency of utilities, environmental health, and sustainable living. We were joined by Water from Innovation, provider of wastewater solutions, and IOSight, who delivers data management and analytics for the water and energy sectors. This was a great opportunity for these and other companies to learn more about Israeli companies and the technology they bring to the market.
The conference energy was strong, even while attendance was understandably lower. It was exciting to learn about up-and-coming companies that received the same award ASTERRA did from Imagine H2O in 2017. Our booth was near Imagine’s booth, and this coincidence was to our benefit because we learned about many exciting innovations in the water community. This was an education all on its own!
On Tuesday, at 10:30 am, we were at the theater to be a part of James Perry’s panel discussion. James is our Vice President for Business Development, and he led a conversation about water leak detection using L-Band Radar and how it relates to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. James said, “The benefits on our end are that we have a wide system scan – one snapshot – of 1400 square miles. We’re able to support pipe replacement programs. We can support master planning. We can find trouble and hot spots, and we can zone where the issues are. Disruptive innovation (ASTERRA technology) is leading the way to sustainability, lowering costs, and maintaining systems.”
James spoke about ASTERRA’s digital technology approach to leak detection and infrastructure assessment as it relates to the analog approach to the same tasks. “ASTERRA is a digital guided approach to traditional and analog technology. This digital approach that we’re leading is helping to find more leaks per day, over shorter distances of time, allowing you to draw out non-revenue water, or in the case of sewage, to know where voids in the system could lead to sanitary sewer overflows or (other) issues.” During James’ discussion – Elly was able to hop on Water Online to be interviewed for their podcast. Kevin Westerling, Chief Editor, shared that it was one of the best interviews that he did that week.
ASTERRA has performed over 400 projects worldwide using their Recover product since commercializing the drinking water offering in 2016. The wastewater offering and EarthWorks Rail and Property have been recently developed within the past year, which supports water and other industry’s infrastructure.
On Tuesday, the ASTERRA booth was the star attraction as they hosted a surprising leader in the leak detection industry, a dog named Vessel. This dog quickly became the highlight at the conference, as many were gathered just to meet the dog. We were also honored to have Patrick Thomas and Dan Wendt of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and Mary Bailey of Chemical Engineering Magazine stop by to cover the event for their respective publications.
The first dog to be trained to detect water leaks in the United States, Vessel is a black retriever who was living in an Arkansas shelter when she showed promise as a service dog. After her rescue from the shelter, she was trained as a leak detection dog. Her accuracy is 90% in detecting leaks and she is now a full-time member of the Central Arkansas Water (CAW) leak detection team. Watch Vessel in action here, but we met her in person at the ASTERRA booth.
Vessel has saved more potable water than any other dog, and she deserved all those celebratory pats on the head as one of the world leaders in the water industry. Many lucky people received a gift of a limited-edition collapsible dog bowl, but I think we all agreed: the celebratory pats on Vessel’s head were the best conference gift of all!