Coming Full Circle: Craft Brewers Demonstrate Potable Reuse Acceptance

Posted on in Water


Some 20 years ago, a well-known American beer brewer decided that a Southern California water district would damage its reputation for a quality brew—aided and abetted by competitive beer makers—if that district succeeded in its plan to build a recycling plant that would return purified water to the local groundwater basin that the brewery obtained its water from and, eventually, to the drinking water supply. Two decades later, a seemingly clever but ultimately inaccurate description of this forward-looking process of potable reuse, namely “toilet to tap” (T-to-T), still resurfaces among scare mongers and sensationalists who use it as pejorative shorthand in a hearts-and-minds battle for reliable water supplies.

T-to-T remains a phrase that haunts potable reuse projects more than 20 years after it was first coined. Cartoons still appear, showing the choice of drinking from your toilet, along with pithy captions. Yet if you believe that all bad things must come to an end, in large part that’s what is happening today: there are more potable reuse projects than ever being planned and implemented. And whether it’s drinking from a water tap or beer tap, public acceptance is becoming more prevalent than ever.

Read the full article by Sara M. Katz and Patricia Tennyson published in January’s AWWA Journal here.

Pure Water San Diego Wins Multiple PRSA Awards

Posted on in Awards


The Pure Water San Diego team won multiple awards at the 2017 Bernays Mark of Excellence Awards, hosted by Public Relations Society of America, San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter! Awards include:

  • Silver Award of Excellence for Community Relations: Nonprofit/Government/Association – Pure Water San Diego Tour Program and Open House
  • Silver Award of Excellence for Events and Observances (Seven Days or Fewer): Nonprofit/Government/Association – Pure Stone: Beer Brewed with Purified Recycled Water
  • PR Team of the Year – Katz & Associates and City of San Diego  Pure Water Integrated Team
  • Best of Show – Pure Stone: Beer Brewed with Purified Recycled Water

Congratulations to the Pure Water San Diego team!


Derek Danziger joins Katz & Associates as New President

Posted on in Uncategorized

CEO Sara Katz and new President Derek Danziger

CEO Sara Katz and new President Derek Danziger

We are thrilled to announce that Derek Danziger will join K&A as our new President. He will be responsible for oversight and strategic direction for the firm’s three offices and 40 employees.

Danziger has more than 20 years of strategic public relations, marketing and communications experience, primarily in the public sector, and is well-known in the San Diego business community. He most recently served as a vice president at Nuffer, Smith, Tucker (NST), where he successfully developed the firm’s Public Outreach and Community Relations practice. Prior to his work with NST, Danziger served as vice president of marketing and communications for the former Centre City Development Corporation, media center director for LEGOLAND California, director of media & public relations for the Super Bowl XXXII Host Committee, and a manager in SeaWorld San Diego’s education department. He is currently a board member on the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and an alum of LEAD San Diego. Danziger is a graduate of UC San Diego.

“Our leadership team made a strategic decision to realign the president role to focus on growth and strategic market position,” said Sara Katz. “We are already known for our communication expertise in water, transportation, energy and environmental projects, and we want to strengthen that position as well as diversify our portfolio more broadly. Derek’s experience and network will serve us well as we look to expand into other private sector areas that complement our public sector practice areas,” said Katz. “In addition, Derek’s management style is in alignment with ours and as such, will be a great addition to the firm.”

“I’m excited to help lead and grow a well-established team. I enjoy the opportunity to help organizations strategically tell their story, manage their brand, and interact with the public across many sectors of business,” said Danziger. “I also look forward to working throughout the state with the K&A team as their presence and client roster is impressive.”

Danziger succeeds Lewis Michaelson who assumed the leadership roles of chief operating officer and president in 2012 after being with the firm for 13 years. During his tenure he helped the firm achieve steady growth, improve internal operations, increase profitability and transition to an employee-owned company. He made the decision to step down as President, allowing him more time for other interests such as traveling and to work on authoring a book. Michaelson will remain with the firm, continuing to provide strategic counsel, training and lead facilitation for existing and future clients. He will also continue as part of the firm’s management team.

Derek begins his new position full-time on November 6th.

Building Resiliency Beyond
the Infrastructure

Posted on in Public Involvement, Water

1162 Install carrier pipe_editedReflecting on time spent the first week of October in Chicago at WEFTEC, Water Environment Federation’s annual water quality technical conference and exhibition, key themes emerging from conversations on the exhibit hall floor and during sessions were: aging infrastructure, sustainability, climate change and more. As the largest conference of its kind, bringing together over 15,000 participants from around the world, it is no surprise that these themes are all top of mind for utility managers, operations personnel, financial analysts, consultants and communications officers responsible for providing critical services to their communities. And central to all of these issues was a discussion of resiliency. What does it take to be resilient? What are the core ingredients for building resiliency?

Certainly resiliency has been tested in the wake of several natural disasters across the country from flooding and hurricanes in the south and Puerto Rico, to earthquakes in Mexico, and wildfires in California and the west. Each event has highlighted how essential water and wastewater systems are to our everyday lives and the severe consequences when these systems are in disrepair and cannot function properly. Unfortunately, public focus is tuned to problems in the wake of disasters, but gaining interest in the importance of building resiliency, and all that it entails, is much more challenging in “normal” times when systems are functioning well, out of sight and out of mind. The reality is, most Americans take water, and the systems that bring it to and from homes and businesses, for granted. They turn on the tap, flush the toilet, and don’t think twice about where the water came from or where it goes.

The truth is, however, that ensuring this reliability and building resiliency requires upgrading existing and building new water and wastewater infrastructure, upgrading systems and technology, training a new generation of operators and workers, maximizing economic benefits of infrastructure, protecting vulnerable communities, and ensuring access to clean water for all. The great news is that many utilities are investing in all of these areas. However, an important – and often undervalued – ingredient is the commitment required to bring customers into the infrastructure and investment conversation, helping them understand the infrastructure needs in their communities, and ultimately building public support for those investments. It is safe to say that most people would prefer their water rates do not go up, especially since many consumers have embraced an improved water ethic of using less water, but are asked to support higher water rates.

Sometimes we are so enchanted by the shiny new pipes or latest technological innovations that it is easy to forget that people are the center of resiliency.

As such, it is imperative that conversations and engagement go on at all times with your ratepayers so when there is a needed ask of your “investors,” there is a better understanding and appreciation of the need and a greater likelihood of support.

The next truth is that there is a monumental financial investment required across the nation to address aging infrastructure and build resilience. These investments, also known as rate increases, will not happen without informed consumers and supportive opinion leaders and stakeholders who will foot the bill. Knowing that—today we at Katz & Associates are joining nearly 700 organizations across the country who are coming together for Imagine a Day Without Water—national day of education and awareness about the importance of our water and wastewater systems and how they connect to the daily lives of all Americans. We are proud to join forces with our partners and clients, both engineering firms and water and wastewater utilities, to highlight the connection between needs and solutions. As consultants helping our clients communicate about things that matter, we hope others will join and use this day of action to start a conversation with your networks about the essential role water and wastewater systems play in our daily lives, in our economy, and in our ability to be resilient in the face of climate change and natural disasters.

Katz & Associates is committed to helping communicate the important work our clients are doing, so customers can imagine a day without water, but never have to experience it.

11 Outreach Strategies for Potable Reuse

Posted on in Best Practices, Public Involvement, Water

Potable_Water_Reuse_IDIn general, the public’s perception about recycled drinking water can be summed up in a few (and sometimes negative) catch-phrases. Here’s what we’ve learned over the years to begin to turn-around these perceptions:

  1. Start with research: Who are your audiences? What do they think? What do they understand?
  2. Get the language right: Do not assume your audiences know anything about potable water or how their water supply is maintained for their benefit.
  3. Talk tech, but do it briefly and simply: Photographs, graphics, and simplified descriptions have been proved to aide communication success.
  4. Build alliances: A coalition of supporters can create a powerful bandwagon that can attract members of their own circles of influence.
  5. Query your team’s attitudes: When identifying stakeholders and audiences, make sure your own employees are at the top of the list. Find out what they think or what they need to know.
  6. Promote two-way communication but manage expectations: Invite input where it can be used, but set realistic expectations for how input will be incorporated.
  7. Develop a message platform: The ultimate message goal is for people to see potable reuse as an acceptable alternative because they have been well informed in a transparent way.
  8. Use graphics and videos: Given the complexity of reuse projects, clear graphics will be tremendously valuable in helping customers visualize a project and understand technical aspects.
  9. Establish a news bureau: Get ready for media relations and develop a rapid response plan to address misinformation or misunderstanding.
  10. Use social media judiciously: It can be helpful, and can be dangerous. Understand it’s power and be strategic.
  11. Touring is believing: Solid graphics are great; hands on experiences are even more powerful. Where demonstration or touring is possible – make plans early.
Adapted from “Getting to Yes, Public Outreach for Potable Reuse: Bring the Public to a New Level of Acceptance.” Sara M. Katz and Patricia A. Tennyson, Journal AWWA, November 2015.