A total of 17,515 water professionals and 984 exhibiting companies occupying a record-breaking 295,295 net sq ft of exhibition booth space attended WEFTEC 2010—the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 83rd annual technical exhibition and conference—at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This year’s record-setting exhibition exceeded the previous record set at WEFTEC.08 in Chicago by more than 5,700 net sq ft.
The conference provided attendees from around the world with a technical program of 112 technical sessions, 33 workshops and several high profile events, including a special session featuring Robert Perciasepe, deputy administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Perciasepe updated attendees on the agency’s current policies, priorities and programs, and announced the issuance of EPA’s new Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy. “Through cost-effective, resource-efficient techniques—like green water infrastructure alternatives—this policy aims to make our communities more environmentally and economically sustainable,” he said during the Oct. 4 session. “These smart investments in our water infrastructure, along with increased awareness of the importance of these investments, can keep our water cleaner and save Americans money.”
Other events focused on global and local disaster recovery, including a special session featuring award-winning journalist and former CNN reporter Kathleen Koch who shared highlights from her new book, Rising from Katrina, and a well-attended community service project organized by WEF’s Students & Young Professionals Committee that constructed a bioswale in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Workshops and technical sessions provided in-depth examination of topics such as private sewer system management, innovative applications of the small-scale use of reclaimed water, recent developments in membrane bioreactor technology, and improved energy efficiency for wastewater treatment plants and processes.
The well-attended Opening General Session featured author Steven Solomon, who also shared insights from his book, Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization. Specifically, Solomon called for a new paradigm of sustainable water management and recognized water professionals as leaders in the effort to avert an impending water crisis. “[Water professionals] are the vanguard drivers of this revolutionary business of inventing a new paradigm for the age of water scarcity,” he said. “You alone possess the expertise and everyone is looking to you for leadership and wise solutions.”
Other opening session highlights included remarks from 2009-2010 WEF President Paul Freedman, recognition of WEF’s most prestigious awards and the introduction of the 2010 Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners.
On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Freedman ceremoniously “passed the gavel” of federation leadership to incoming President Jeanette Brown and inducted the 2010-2011 WEF officers and board of trustees. The ceremony culminated with the remaining awards presentations in recognition of the outstanding achievements of the most talented and dedicated professionals in the water quality community. In all, over 25 awards were presented at various events throughout the conference.
Other key highlights included the 2010 WEF Student Design Competition, including the two first place winning teams from Southern Methodist University (Wastewater Division) and the University of Florida (Environmental Division); WEF’s Global Center; the AEESP/WEF Scientists’ Luncheon; and the 2010 Operations Challenge Competition that was won by Terminal Velocity from the Virginia Water Environment Association.
Planning for WEFTEC 2011 is already underway. Scheduled for Oct. 15 to 19, 2011, in Los Angeles, Calif., the 2011 call for abstracts is now open. Visit www.weftec.org for details.