What’s Happening at WEFTEC Connect?

Oct. 2, 2020

Editor’s most anticipated sessions for WEFTEC Connect


WEFTEC Connect is a five-day virtual event from Oct. 5 to 9 hosted by the Water Environment Federation with educational and technical sessions for the water and wastewater industry.

Much like the American Water Works Association had put on Sept. 23 and 24, the Water Environment Federation has pivoted its annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) to a virtual event to serve its membership due the the coronavirus pandemic.

WEFTEC Connect boasts more than 400 on-demand sessions as well as an exhibitor showcase with hundreds of exhibitor booths to visit for new product releases, new equipment, and the latest advancements in industry product evolution. 

The Water & Wastes Digest editors, along with those from Water Quality Products and Storm Water Solutions, combed through the catalogue of sessions for WEFTEC Connect to pick out the ones they are most looking forward to attending. Below is a short list of their most anticipated sessions by major track, but there are far more sessions worth checking out, so visit the session planner for the event as well!

Editor’s note: All session time are in Eastern time, so make sure to adjust your to your timezone accordingly.

Keynote Sessions

Opening General Session - Clarity Through Crisis

Monday, Oct. 5  - 11:00-11:45 a.m.

Speaker: Jackie Jarrel, WEF President

Water Environment Federation President Jackie Jarrell will set the tone for the five days of WEFTEC Connect Oct. 5 to 9 before sharing the microphone with René Rodriguez. The WEFTEC Connect Session planner has this to say for the keynote session that you will not want to miss:

High-impact speaker René Rodriguez will use his training and experience in applied behavioral neuroscience to teach water professionals how to reframe adversity and harness the power of courage to become more thoughtful, engaged, and adaptable leaders during normal times and in moments of crisis.

René is ready to inspire, educate, and entertain you with content from his Courage Scale Model and Brain Model packaged with fun, interactive, and custom-designed elements to make this year's all-virtual Opening General Session a unique, engaging, and dynamic experience!

Facility Operations & Maintenance

Cost-effective environmental protection is the name of the game for many water resource recovery facilities, but challenges from regulators, aging and retiring workforces, difficult fiscal environments and pressures to replace old, outdated, and aging equipment place a lot of strain on workers at these facilities. Sessions in this track aim to highlight new ways of thinking, advancements in technology that can ease the strain of those challenges and what the future holds for WRRF workers. Aeration control, resource recovery, biological nutrient removal, energy management and sustainability and process intensification area all featured in this track.

Knowledge Development Forum: Digital Twins - A Waste of Time or The Future of Water Resource Recovery?

Tuesday, Oct. 6 - 1:00-2:25 p.m.

Digital Twin is not a new term or concept, but it is new to many workers in the water resource recovery world. Increased attention on smart systems and the acceleration of digital tools adoption in 2020 have necessitated more discussion, tought and ideas around the Digital Twin concept. Join this session for a productive participation forum defining digital twins, what they can do and cannot do, the barriers for implementing them and whether or not they are the future for water resource recovery.

Clearing the Air: Odor Mitigation and Treatment

Wednesday, Oct. 7 - 8:30-10:10 a.m.

Those working at wastewater treatment plants and water resource recovery facilities know how important odor control can be to ensure as few complaints as possible from neighbors. It is especially important for facilities located near residential areas. Learn about new technologies and solutions for addressing and mitigating odor issues with this session, including vapor phase treatment and chemical treatment within the collection system.

Industrial Issues & Treatment Technologies

The sessions you’ll find in this major track are aimed at bringing the best thought leaders in industrial wastewater treatment and resuse technology to the forefront. Sessions, workshops, and other events in this topi heading will discuss the challenges for industrial water users in food and beverage, mining and metals, oil and gas, petrochemical, manufacturing, power and pharmaceuticals among others. 

Pulp and Paper Wastewater Treatment Issues

Wednesday, Oct. 7 - 1:00-1:40 p.m. 

Aerated stabilization basins (ASBs) have been a primary treatment selection for pulp and paper mill wastewater treatment, but his has begun to change as mills are experiencing lower BOD limits and tightening regulatory parameters. This session will evaluate biological treatment alternatives including nitrogen fixation in ASBs and activated sludge.

Disinfection & Public Health

To ensure public health and wellness, disinfection cannot be ignored, and it is a cornerstone of all water and wastewater treatment processes. Session in this track consist of fundamental information for application, testing and demonstrations of disinfection applications, how to disinfect reclaimed water, stormwater and other innovativesolutions, and public health issues affecting small communities.

Wastewater 101: Solutions Sessions Presentation 

Monday, Oct. 5 - 8:00-10:00 a.m. 

This session is part of a series of sessions called Solutions Sessions. These are aimed at engaging young professionals, public officials and students to give them foundational knowledge on several topics. This particular session focuses on the basics of wastewater, regulations, resource recovery, and preliminary, secondary, tertiary and effluent treatment.

Utility Management and Leadership

Effective utility management skills are evolving and becoming increasingly diverse as manager handle not only budgets and personnel issues, but also address stakeholders, rate payers, and the public. These sessions are aimed at targeting improvement in those skills through learned experience and technical knowledge while also sharing the latest in industry regulations and regulatory requirements.

Show Me the money: Getting Funding and Spending it Effectively 

Monday, Oct. 5 - 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Without funding, nothing would happen in the stormwater sector, so spending that funding effectively is crucial to success. Learn innovation ways people have secured funding and made every penny count.

Following the Money: How Investment in Water Technology Is a Driving Force for Change

Tuesday, October 6 - 12:00-12:30 p.m.

Before addressing the concerns of the technology, the process or even the people, projects must consider the money. Learn what goes into decision-making processes for venture capital providers, why entrepreneurs are showing increased interest in the water sector, and what that could mean for utilities and the future of the industry.

A Path Forward: Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Water Industry

Wednesday, October 7 - 3:30-4:30 p.m.

This session directly confronts issues of race and equity in the water system and explores how to better serve communities while maintaining environmental justice. Session panelists will define the issues and use case studies to show solutions for addressing inequity. Here is more from the session pamphlet:

Equity is not 'someone else's problem' - it is our problem. This session will help attendees understand the issues of water equity and how we all might take meaningful action toward improvement. No matter the size of the community or utility, something can be and should be done.

Stormwater, Green Infrastructure, and Wet Weather

Sessions in this track will focus on the latest information for stormwater professionals including green infrastructure projects and technology as well as how to better handle wet weather events for water and wastewater professionals.

Plan to Plan: Integrated and Master Planning Efforts for Green Infrastructure and Stormwater Management 

Tuesday, Oct. 6 - 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Learn how to integrate green infrastructure and storm water management into your master plan for addressing future conditions and ways to address urban stormwater management challenges.