The Membrane Technology Conference (MTC) 2017 is in full swing in Long Beach, California, and talk on the show floor reflects a mix of aspirations and concerns.

There’s a degree of nervousness in the air about how the Trump administration will play out for the water industry, particularly in terms of water quality rules and other regulations. One specific concern is how Trump’s hostile attitude to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a federal agency, may affect the work of state agencies in drawing up rules for potable water reuse.

And of course, there is plenty of speculation at the show about the sale of GE Water, including whether it had ever been a good idea to bring together membrane sales with a chemicals business; and if the reported asking price of $3 billion is too steep? Probably, is the consensus.

Meanwhile, further up the Pacific coast in Northern California, 180,000 people were evacuated from their homes on Monday, on the eve of the MTC opening, as Oroville Dam, built in 1968, looked on the verge of flooding, and emergency repairs were made to a spillway. In the event the dam held, but the drama highlighted the challenge to the water industry generally, and California in particular, of water management as the climate warms.

Engineers, systems designers, OEMs, and operations managers from across the US and beyond are all working to solve similar water management challenges, ones that the jointly run American Water Works Association/ American Membrane Technology Association event is designed to address.