AWWA Cancels ACE20 June Conference in Orlando

(UC) — The American Water Works Association has added its AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE20) to the list of major cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibit hall at ACE19, held last June in Denver. (photo: AWWA)

The decision to cancel was made "after several weeks of careful consideration and with great sadness," AWWA President Jim Williams wrote in a letter to members and exhibitors dated Wednesday.

"With the coronavirus pandemic still unfolding, leading health authorities are asking people to avoid travel and to practice social distancing. It’s uncertain when these guidelines might change. With the conference less than 10 weeks away, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which we could move forward with full confidence," Williams wrote.

The event had been scheduled for June 14-17 in Orlando, Florida, as was to have been its 139th edition. Details on refunds, hotel and airline cancellations, exhibit and sponsor questions, and other information were made available on the ACE website.

Conference registrations will be automatically cancelled and refunded in full, AWWA said, including tickets for Pre-Conference Workshops, Water Industry Lunch, Public Officials Courses, Fuller Breakfast, Facility Tours and Golf Tournament. The refund process may take up to 45 days, AWWA said.

In his letter, Williams recognized the efforts of volunteers and others who had worked to prepare for the event, describing the impact of the cancellation while encouraging participants to look ahead to ACE21 scheduled for June 13-16 next year. He wrote:

"Although the cancellation may feel inevitable, we wish it was not the case. Many of you put a great deal of volunteer time, creativity and passion into making ACE20 an outstanding event. Others have prepared brilliant presentations to be shared in the professional program. Still others have developed innovative technologies and services that should be seen on the exhibit floor. Please know that AWWA is grateful for your efforts and is exploring new pathways to share your contributions.

"One of the hallmarks of ACE is the tradition of sharing knowledge and best practices that advance our sector’s critical work. The face-to-face conversations that occur following professional sessions, the chance encounters on the exhibit floor, the moments of fellowship at social events – these irreplaceable personal interactions lead to real-world solutions.

"Still, AWWA remains laser-focused on its mission to provide solutions to effectively manage water. We are evaluating exciting options to allow members to share their knowledge in new and innovative ways. We will be sending details on that in the weeks ahead. And we are already looking forward to ACE21 in San Diego. As the ACE20 theme suggests, the future is bright.

"In closing, we want to thank you all again for your tremendous spirit of self-sacrifice throughout this pandemic. There is not a finer collection of people than water professionals. The quiet, heroic work you are accomplishing on behalf of your communities is literally saving lives."

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