Oct 28, 2008

WEFTEC’s Growth Continues

WEFTEC.08 is the largest in conference’s 81-year history

Record-setting numbers of 21,950 attendees and 1,111 companies using 290,000 net sq ft of exhibit space have designated WEFTEC.08—the Water Environment Federation’s 81st Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference—as the largest event its 81-year history. The previous records of 19,929 attendees, 1,017 companies and 268,405 net sq ft of floor space were set just last year at WEFTEC.07 in San Diego.

The conference offered the most dynamic educational and training experience in WEFTEC’s history with 31 workshops, 115 technical sessions and 10 facility tours that addressed the timeliest issues in water, wastewater treatment, storm water management, energy, green initiatives, science, research and legislative and political issues.

Professor John Anthony Allan anchored a well-balanced opening general session program with a keynote address featuring the concept of “virtual water,” which measures how water is embedded in the production and trade of food and consumer products. This concept has major impacts on global trade policy and research, especially in water-scarce regions, and has redefined discourse in water policy and management.

The Honorable Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago received a standing ovation from the 800 attendees for his speech, “Making Chicago a Global Leader in Water and Sustainability,” given in a session on water infrastructure and sustainable innovations. Mayor Daley shared the recently unveiled Chicago Climate Action Plan and also insisted that the Nation’s cities must reinvest in infrastructure and will need help in financing.

“Whoever is the next President of the United States needs to address what has been an inadequate level of federal investment in our infrastructure, including water systems, roads, bridges, highways, public transportation and school construction,” he said.

On the international front, 2,378 international registrants attended WEFTEC.08. These international attendees included 245 trade delegation attendees from 71 countries, who utilized WEF’s Global Center services to facilitate their meetings with exhibitors, organize site visits, and utilize translator services. WEF also facilitated meetings between exhibitors and trade delegates representing water and wastewater buyer interests from such countries as China, the Philippines, Israel, Bulgaria, Iraq and South Africa, to name a few.

On Tuesday, as part of the “Presidential Celebration”, President Adam Zabinski ceremoniously “passed the gavel” of Federation leadership to Rebecca West and inducted the remaining 2008-2009 WEF Officers and Board of Trustees. The ceremony culminated with awards presentations in recognition of the outstanding achievements of the most talented and dedicated professionals in the water quality community. In all, more than 25 awards were presented at various events during the four-day conference.

A successful hands-on community service project, “Getting out of the Gutter”, featured the construction of a Rain Garden at Pulaski Park in Chicago. The event was a project of the WEF Young Professionals Committee, the Illinois Water Environment Association, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The $7,000 corporate-sponsored project left behind a green space that will provide native plants and effective storm water mitigation drainage to a previously plain turf area.