Clean Currents 2023

Justify Your Attendance at Clean Currents

Toolkit for Making Your Request

By now, you already know that at NHA’s Clean Currents Conference + Tradeshow you can learn to innovate and make valuable connections with other waterpower industry professionals to successfully tackle the challenges and opportunities facing you and your organization. 

But how do you share the value of this event with your Board or supervisor in order to help justify your attendance? 

Below is some helpful information.

How to Get Travel Approval From Your Manager

General Tips

7 top tips for getting manager approval to invest in your training/travel to Clean Currents:

  • Focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as return for the investment.
  • Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation and Q&A to your colleagues to share what you learned. That way, others in your unit will get the benefits of your attendance, too.
  • Share the agenda and speaker handouts with your colleagues. As an attendee, you have access to materials posted by speakers at the conclusion of the event.
  • If you are working to obtain or maintain your professional engineer (PE) designation, remind your supervisor that this is a great way to earn up to 13.5 professional development hours (PDHs).
  • Be ready with a plan that shows who will cover for you while you are attending the conference.
  • Offer to share a room to reduce hotel expenses by finding a roommate
  • Be sure to check out the registration page where all the various rates are listed to see if you qualify for any of the lower rates or discounts.

How to Justify Conference Attendance

This article below provides some easy-to-use tools to help you calculate the investment and identify your return.

by Mike Doyle

As a manager, how do you propose any allocation of resources in your organization? 

You need to understand two components to make decisions:

  • Expense (the “investment”)
  • Return on Investment

Understanding Your Conference Expenses

Conference expenses are affected by a number of factors. Before you can even begin to justify conference expenses, you need to calculate what those expenses are. To do so, use the following Expenses Worksheet to develop a cost estimate for attending your selected conference.

Conference Registration $
Pre & Post-Conference Class Registration, if applicableusually optional$
Materials Fees (if any)books? software? media?$
Flighttry a Web travel service to get a quick estimate$
Lodgingconferences usually have special rates with hotel$
Transportation: Airport to Hotelif flying: taxi? car rental?$
Transportation: Hotel to Airportif flying: taxi? car rental?$
Mileage Reimbursementdriving to conference? To the airport for your flight? Use online driving distance (Google Maps etc.) to calculate distances, then multiply miles by 56.5 cents/mile (IRS standard for 2013)$
Parking Reimbursementat airport for flight departure, or at hotel where conference is located$
Food Per Diemsee IRS guidelines for conference locale rates. Remember, most include breakfast, lunch, & breaks$
total number of employees going 
= total$

Understanding the Benefits

Let’s face it: many benefits from conference attendance are hard to quantify. For example, experts agree that the top benefit of conference attendance is networking value. Where else can you find so many industry contacts facing the same issues as your organization? Are there solutions you’re not aware of? Although networking is undoubtedly the most important aspect of a conference, it is also the toughest for which to quantify any value.

On the other hand, if an employee came to you and said, “I want you to fund me for $4,000 and I don’t know what it’ll do for you,” then you would likely scoff at the offer… and maybe even mumble a few colorful metaphors about his/her suggestion.

When you propose a conference for approvals, don’t focus on how much you want to go; focus on what you will specifically bring back to the organization as payback for the investment.

Some specific details you’ll need to identify include:

  • Session content. What sessions have particular relevance to your organization’s work? Specifically, identify:
    1. Tools 
    2. Technologies
    3. Processes
  • Vendor contacts. Will the conference showcase vendors with tools you use or are evaluating for potential future use? Is this an opportunity during which you’ll be able to compare competing tools?
  • Best practices. Will there be training sessions in areas that will immediately benefit your group?
  • Training. Will there be workshops designed to teach attendees a special skill and/or help your team overcome current or future challenges?
  • Client Relationships. Can you confirm that clients of projects you are working on, or hope to work on, will be in attendance? If so, that is all the more reason for you to be at Clean Currents.

Quantifying the Benefits

Although you might understand the benefits of the conference that interests you, your manager may not. Therefore, to be most effective in justifying the conference, you need to clearly articulate the connection between your organization’s knowledge requirements and the conference program. DO NOT assume that your manager will be able to automatically make those distinctions.To support this process, use the following Benefits Worksheet to help you focus on the benefits. Use whatever makes sense for your particular organization and conference, and omit the rest. 

Your Organization’s BenefitsSpecific Needs and the Conference Sessions & Training that Meet the Need
Networking BenefitsThis conference will allow [specific team members] to network with other professionals and vendors in the industry. We will be able to take the pulse of what is happening for tools, technologies, and processes, and hear ideas we weren’t even aware of.
Teambuilding (if sending a big part of your group)This conference will help build our team, providing a forum for team members to discuss tools, technologies, and processes and how we might apply them in our company to improve our information products, workflow, and processes.
Current Tools 
Future Tools Exploration 
Current Technologies 
Future Technologies Exploration 
Current Processes 
Future Processes Exploration 
Vendors With Tools & Technologies You Are Exploring 

It’s All In The Selling

After you have identified the specific knowledge benefits, you’ve provided both the expenses and benefits your manager needs to decide the value of your proposition. Salespeople work the same way. They don’t let customers infer the value of what they are selling; they make that leap for them.

Sell your conference proposition!

Justification Letter

Request for Approval 

Dear [Approving Manager], 

I am writing to request your approval to attend the National Hydropower Association’s Clean Currents tradeshow + conference on October 10-13, 2023, in Cincinnati, Ohio

Clean Currents is the premier waterpower event of the waterpower industry in North America. The event originated from in-depth industry listening sessions with the waterpower community in 2019.  Clean Currents is owned by the non-profit National Hydropower Association and is the only national waterpower tradeshow + conference in which all proceeds are reinvested back into the industry. 

I will have the opportunity to learn from the top experts in the industry on several themes that relate directly to our initiatives and my work, including [topic], [topic] and [topic].  Also, NHA will provide a certificate to me following the event for 13.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs). 

There will be critical discussion on current challenges and needs within the waterpower industry that will give me a deeper, more holistic understanding of the work that I do and areas of improvement. Some of the presentations I hope to attend include list sessions, workshops.  I think these sessions will help me acquire knowledge that is useful for [reason]. 

While there, I will be able to “pick the brains” of the senior-level speakers and most respected experts in the waterpower industry. They will share case studies and other examples of their work during the interactive concurrent sessions. 

This is also a terrific opportunity for networking. I look forward to meeting other industry professionals at all stages in their careers and creating lasting connections. 

I am seeking approval for the main conference registration fee and travel expenses. I would also like to sign up for the Future Leaders of Waterpower Young Professionals Happy Hour, where I will meet both new industry professionals and senior professionals to help expand my network  

Below is a cost breakdown. I would like to book travel as soon as possible to get the best price. 

Conference Registration: __________

Estimated Airfare: __________ 

Hotel: __________  

Misc/Dinners: __________ 

Total cost of __________. 

Thank you for considering my request. I am happy to answer any questions and I look forward to discussing the event with you in further detail. If you’d like to look at the program for this educational event, here is a link to the conference details:  


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