Robert Puente, President & CEO at San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and will be speaking at the World Water-Tech North America Summit later this month. We were pleased to catch up with him ahead of his panel discussion at the summit.

Can you share some examples of the collaborations with universities / technology providers to overcome a specific challenge?

SAWS has effectively employed satellite leak detection technologies.  This technology has provided significant improvement at finding leaks that would have gone undetected using our older leak detection methodologies.  Combining these technologies provides SAWS with a more reliable operations, more effective system analysis, and better capital planning.

What’s the most urgent/biggest challenge right now for San Antonio Water System – and by extension other utilities – that you need to find solutions for?

Like other water utilities across the nation and world, SAWS has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure over the years.  However, as this infrastructure, which in many cases is hidden from public view due to its underground nature, continues to age, the repair and replacement costs are enormous.  Adequately maintaining this rapidly aging infrastructure in order to ensure the health and human safety of the San Antonio community while facing enormous pressure to minimize any rate increases poses the single largest challenge currently facing San Antonio Water System.

Why is your panel discussion ‘One Water Resilience – Prepare, Respond and Recover’ an important topic for the industry?

SAWS has and will continue to take a progressive approach to capitalizing on new technologies.  As an example, SAWS is focusing on potable water infrastructure assessment,  which will improve service reliability and reduce nonrevenue water losses.   For the last five years, SAWS has employed internal  pipe assessment tools on critical infrastructure to determine where leaks are occurring, where pipe capacity is being lost, and where pipe integrity is eroding which will become a future failure.  These non-destructive methods of analysis provide essential asset information that minimizes catastrophic interruption risk and provides a fact based roadmap for future potable infrastructure rehabilitations.

Robert Puente will be joining us at the World Water-Tech North America Summit ‘One Water Resilience – Prepare, Respond and Recover’.