January 1, 2012

Paul F. Boulos, Ph.D., Hon.D.WRE, F.ASCE and Deborah H. Lee, P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE who both serve on the AAWRE Board of Trustees participated in Innovyze’s European Water and Flood Modelling Conference, this past fall 20-21 September in South Gloucestershire, UK. The annual event gathered together world leaders in water and sewer network modelling, network management and optimisation, and asset management

A key feature of the two-day event is the parallel water supply and waste water streams that provide delegates with focused insights into the current position of the industry and the latest innovations driving it forward. The keynote presentations by industry leading experts were designed to widen delegate knowledge and perspectives.

Dr. Paul Boulos is President and COO of Innovyze, and is one of the world’s foremost experts on water resources engineering, acclaimed for his practical and scientific expertise and his extensive experience in both academe and the corporate world. He has been invited to speak at many noted organizations focused on science, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Dr Boulos’ presentation at the conference looked at water quality and quantity issues throughout the world, presenting compelling information on the large extent of the problems. Dr. Boulos encouraged delegates to take a leading role in solving these problems, praising the creativity and innovation at the heart of the engineering profession.

Ms. Deborah Lee is Chief of Cincinnati, Ohio’s Water Management Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has more than 24 years of professional experience in water resources research and management with the Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As Chief, Deborah directs the Water Management Program for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division and its 7 Districts. Ms Lee’s presentation at the conference focused on how large scale flood management is performed in the United States, as illustrated by the recent Mississippi River flood(s) in 2011. The concept of large scale flood management was of particular interest to conference delegates particularly because of the contrast of scale that it presents with European flood management.

Deborah Lee remarked on the conference:

“I had the great opportunity to attend the 2011 European Water and Flood Modeling Conference on Sep 21-22 in South Gloucestershire, England by invitation from Innovyze to give the International Keynote Presentation.

The 2-day conference was attended by 140 people from across Europe.  My talk presented the challenges and methods of executing flood control for the Mississippi River watershed, a watershed that covers more than 40% of the United States land mass.  The scale of the challenge was realized by the European audience when the basin outline was shown superimposed over Europe.  They were amazed by the sheer volume of water (nearly 2 million cfs) that we managed in this spring's flood.The first keynote address of the day was given by Dr. Boulos, CEO of Innovyze (formerly MWH Soft in the US and Wallingford in the UK). He presented the challenges being faced worldwide for clean, reliable water supply and wastewater treatment. Population growth and climate change will push existing dire situations into human disasters in countries like Brazil and India where clean water is not available in large urban centers. The first keynote address of the day was given by Dr. Boulos, CEO of Innovyze (formerly MWH Soft in the US and Wallingford in the UK). He presented the challenges being faced worldwide for clean, reliable water supply and wastewater treatment. Population growth and climate change will push existing dire situations into human disasters in countries like Brazil and India where clean water is not available in large urban centers.

The challenges the Europeans are facing though are identical to ours: aging infrastructure; no new capital for investment in new projects; and a gap in succession planning with few young journeymen to replace the wave of retiring professionals. These challenges are occurring simultaneously with increasing water demand and when improved wastewater treatment is needed to meet environmental goals.


Their flooding problems are on a smaller scale than in the USA and involve urban flooding, a much more complex environment to model than our large river flooding. They require capabilities to model urban surface runoff connected to underground pipe systems. 20 years ago the British government privatized the water departments and instituted a 5 year planning cycle. The intent was to be a more economically efficient system with lowered costs. But capital costs have remained the same or increased (as in the USA) and the 5 year planning cycle introduced a boom and bust cycle for the engineering consultants who replaced the civil servant engineers. They are struggling with human capital planning and regional workload sharing (as in the USA) in a for-profit environment to sustain a skilled workforce. They are just starting technical communities of practice in a competitive environment.

Another challenge is that the water solutions they need require a sophisticated engineering systems approach supported by complicated modeling, increased technical proficiency, and innovation. A young engineer must be able to master traditional 1-D riverine modeling, 2-D surface flow modelling, dynamic piped systems modeling and apply new methods of urban water catchment, recycling and re-use. GIS is a required fundamental skill set.

I was very impressed by the commercial water modeling and management software, evolving rapidly driven by competition, a global user base, and visionaries looking to provide user friendly tools to solve complex problems. It was well worth the trip "across the pond" to exchange current practices with our global community of practice.”

Paul Boulos stated:

“The 2011 European Water and Flood Modeling Conference brought together world leaders in water and sewer network modeling, network management and optimization, and asset management. The unique event gave the European modeling community - an exceptional forum for exploring the state of the art in water and wastewater infrastructure engineering and management — and for sharing best practices in solving everyday challenges and problems. I was particularly impressed with the depth of the technical presentations and the amazing work our customers are doing to improve the world’s wet infrastructure.

We are so grateful that Deborah Lee was able to attend and share her extensive knowledge and expertise with the European water resources engineering community. Her presentation was truly inspiring and informative.”

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