Discover more about water/wastewater including energy efficiency, microgrids, financing, sustainable solutions, and megatrends 

November 16, 2020  

The Big Room Talks: Water/Wastewater brings industry experts together to share insight and ignite action regarding the latest megatrends and implications about water/wastewater.   

Key Talk Topics: 

  • Megatrends  
  • Project financing  
  • Microgrids 
  • Energy and water nexus  
  • Sustainable solutions  
  • Customer success stories  

With more opportunity than ever before to leverage regulatory and legislative updates, technology, programs, and trends, The Big Room Talks: Water/Wastewater is talking big ideas.


9:00 a.m.

Keynote Presentation

Water Industry Challenges and Opportunities  

This session will address new regulations, technological advancement, environmental drivers, and the workforce needs that successful agencies and companies must consider. 


Mike Nunley is the CEO and President of MKN, a water resource engineering and planning firm based in California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Nunley has served as vice president for a Fortune 500 engineering and construction firm and has vast expertise in project and program management focusing on water reuse, wastewater management, and treatment 

Customer Success Story: City of San Luis Obispo  

This session dives deep and shares all of the exciting things happening at the city of San Luis Obispo regarding water and utilities. 


Aaron Floyd is the Director of Utilities for the City of San Luis Obispo. With a Master of Science in Biological Sciences from Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, he has been active in the field of water for two decades and has worked in the operational and regulatory fields of wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water. In his current role, he oversees programs related to municipal water supply, production, treatment, storage, control, distribution, conservation, metering, customer service programs, wastewater collection, industrial monitoring and pretreatment, wastewater treatment, and water resource recovery programs. He also oversees solid waste, recycling and organic waste programs and franchise management, utilities administration and engineering, and stormwater programs. Mr. Floyd has served on several regional commissions and advisory bodies covering topics including regional water supply, sustainability planning, and groundwater management.


Brent Patera  

PG&E Principal, Business Development

2020 Legislative and Regulatory Update and Water Industry Challenges 

2020 Legislative and Regulatory Update

This has been a year of change and adaptation for everyone – including the California Legislature and State regulatory agencies. Despite changes in how the Legislature and State did its work in 2020, there were still some very big statutory and regulatory developments this year. In this session, hear from advocates who work on policy issues that impact public water agencies on the big changes in 2020 and what to look forward to next year.

Challenges Facing the Water Industry

This session explores the energy challenges in water addressing energy efficiency in treatment, conveyance, and energy recovery in biosolids and pipelines. 



Julia Hall is a Senior Legislative Advocate at the Association of California Water Agencies where she works on issues including drought, wildfire, and wastewater. She has previously served as the Deputy Director of Legislative and Regulatory Review for the California Gambling Control Commission and has held multiple positions at the Department of Consumer Affairs. Ms. Hall has a Master of Public Policy and Administration.  


Nick Blair is a Regulatory Advocate for the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) focusing on energy and water quality issues for ACWA’s 460 members. Having previously worked with the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), he has vast experience with energy and environmental policy issues facing California. Mr. Blair has a Master of Public Policy from UCLA and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies.


Jon Hanlon is a Principal Engineer at MKN, a water resource engineering and planning firm based in California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly. Mr. Hanlon previously served as an operations manager for a Fortune 500 engineering and construction firm and managed their San Luis Obispo office, working throughout California on a variety of water and wastewater treatment projects. He has vast expertise in pumping, storage, and treatment with a focus on energy efficiency and recovery systems.  

Conventional and Unconventional Energy Conservation Measures for WWTPs and the Importance of Resiliency for Facilities  

Conventional and Unconventional Energy Conservation Measures for WWTPs

This session will discuss various conventional and unconventional ECMs. Conventional ECMs include pumps, motors, and VFDs, and unconventional ECMs include zero liquid discharge (industrial water), aeration, and cogeneration.

How Facilities Across the Country Are Mitigating Risk with the Use of a Microgrid

This session shows specific examples of how facilities are using microgrids to mitigate risk in various situations.


Mark Vilchuck has 34 years of experience in mission-critical facility development, design, and operation in the semiconductor, nuclear power, pharmaceutical, and federal government sectors. Since 1983, he has been working primarily in the energy and physical plant space designing, building, and operating new facilities and infrastructure upgrades that improve efficiencies, resiliencies, and capabilities.  Since 2002, Mr. Vilchuck has focused on helping federal installations improve energy resiliency using innovative technologies, reliability-based development processes and operational stability. 


Mr. Jackson is Vice President of Utility Sales at PowerSecure, Inc. and is responsible for the marketing and sales activity of distributed energy solutions to the utility sector. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Winthrop University in Business Management and Marketing. Mr. Jackson has over 15 years of experience in providing distributed energy resource and software solutions to the investor owned utilities, municipal utilities, electric cooperatives, and independent power producers segments. 

Financing Water/WWTRF Projects and PG&E’s Sustainable Solutions Turnkey (SST) Offering  

Financing Water/WWTRF Projects

This session shares more about financing projects on the most favorable terms. 

PG&E’s Sustainable Solutions Turnkey (SST) Offering

This session will provide an overview of PG&E’s Sustainable Solutions Turnkey (SST) offering, including a discussion of the customer challenges it is designed to address, the process it follows, prior SST projects completed, and the advantages it brings to customers in this sector.


Alex Handlers is a Principal and Vice President of BWA with expertise in the areas of utility rates, strategic financial planning, and project financing. He has extensive experience developing long-term financial plans, conservation-oriented rate structures, and development impact fees. As an independent financial advisor, Mr. Handlers has helped public agencies secure over $2 billion in financing via bonds, COPs, bank loans, lines of credit, and various state and federal grant and loan programs. He is a Certified Independent Professional Municipal Advisor, an MSRB-registered municipal advisor, and current board member of the National Association of Municipal Advisors. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Arts from Lehigh University 


John Garnett is a Principal Product Manager in PG&E’s Energy Consulting Group where he oversees the Sustainable Solutions Turnkey (SST) offering. With a tenure of eight years at PG&E, he has previously worked in development and legal roles for a hydropower startup and worked as an attorney representing clients in environmental-related litigation matters. 


Within the AEC industry, Big Rooms are on-site co-location spaces that physically bring together designers, builders, facilities operators, and more to create a collaborative environment.  

The Big Room Talks provides the opportunity for diverse professionals and clients to come together virtually within a collaborative space to learn, explore, and network.