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Wichita Falls man named head of statewide water group

AUSTIN—Veteran utility executive Daniel Nix has been named Executive Director of the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. Nix will join the Texas Section AWWA effective Feb. 19.

Nix succeeds Mike Howe, who is retiring June 30 after 27 years as the executive leader of the largest single-state and fastest growing Section of the Denver-based American Water Works Association. AWWA is the leading water organization in the world and determines drinking water standards for all North America and much of the world.

Nix has worked his way up the ladder at the City of Wichita Falls, serving in a variety of capacities that prepare him to work with utility professionals at every level.

In 1986, he decided to step away from his engineering studies at Texas Tech University and spend a year working as a utilities technician in Wichita Falls. That led to opportunities as a water meter mechanic and laboratory technician.

He continued his career at the city while transferring to Midwestern State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

After serving six years as Operations and Maintenance Supervisor, in 1996 the City of Wichita Falls named Nix the Water Source/Purification Superintendent managing 45 employees. When a vacancy occurred in 2008, he was named Interim Director of Public Utilities, then was named Public Utility Operations Manager, overseeing a staff of 162 employees.

When drought hit the Wichita Falls area and depleted the city’s sources of drinking water, Nix led the utility as it engineered a direct potable reuse solution that won national attention and acclaim. With a fast-track TCEQ approval and detailed communication with its customers, the city piped treated wastewater to its water plant for further treatment and distribution.

Given Nix’s experience with direct potable reuse, he was instrumental in the creation of AWWA’s G485- Potable Reuse Program Operation and Management Standard, first participating on the Direct Potable Reuse Standards Committee and then on the Indirect Potable Reuse Standards Committee. He continues to support standards development by serving on the Reuse Standards Committee and the AWWA Water Reuse Committee.

Nix has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on several initiatives, including the EPA 2017 Potable Reuse Compendium, 2020 Reuse Action Plan and the 2015 Framework for Direct Potable Reuse. In 2021, he collaborated with General Dynamics and the EPA on developing a case study for the EPAs Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) Risk Assessment Application for water utilities.

At the state government level, he was instrumental in working with the 87th Texas Legislature in passing legislation directing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to develop regulatory guidance on implementing direct potable reuse for water utilities and engineering firms.

Nix has worked with the AWWA office in Washington, D.C., since 2017 on the implementation of the Farm Bill in Texas. His efforts got TAWWA a seat on the TNRCS State Technical Advisory Committee.

As with his utility career, Nix has played several roles in the Texas Section and other statewide water organizations.

Nix has served on the TAWWA Board of Directors since 2001. He worked his way through the officer ranks to serve as Chair of Texas AWWA in 2017. He has served as chair of the Membership Education Sub-Division and as chair of the Agriculture Committee and the Business/Industry Committee.  He serves as one of the two Texas representatives on the AWWA Board of Directors.

He received the Fuller Award, AWWA’s highest honor, in 2013. AWWA recognized him with the Honorary Member Award in 2023, honoring his accomplishments and expertise in the field of water. In 2021, the national organization bestowed its Outstanding Service to AWWA award.

Nix spearheaded education efforts for advanced water treatment and for the SETH (Science, Engineering, Technology and Health) program, which will allow high school students to complete the state’s Basic Water Treatment course. Even if they’re not 18, the students can take the TCEQ’s Class D test. If they pass, when they turn 18, they’ll get their Class D license and be ready to work for their local water utility.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to add value to the entire water industry through these Texas Sections initiatives,” Nix said.

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