WEFTEC 2011 Attracts Strong Crowd to Los Angeles

A total of 16,961 water professionals and 923 exhibiting companies from around the world attended WEFTEC 2011?the Water Environment Federation?s (WEF) 84th annual Technical Exhibition and Conference Oct. 16-19 in Los Angeles. As the city?s second largest conference this year, the strong showing reinforces WEFTEC as the place to be for information and technology exchange among water professionals and for access to the best business opportunities in the water quality field.

?WEFTEC continues to be the must attend event for water professionals who want to keep up with the best water science and products,? said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. ?This year?s outstanding program and exhibition shows that we stand ready to meet the needs of our members, attendees, and the entire water profession.?

To that end, last week?s conference offered attendees their choice of more than 900 presentations in 114 technical sessions, 37 workshops, eight local facility tours, as well as several high profile events. Key sessions and workshops featured in-depth topics such as private sewer system management, innovative applications of recycled water, water infrastructure investment, recent developments in membrane bioreactor technology, and improved energy efficiency for wastewater treatment plants and processes.

Of particular interest was a high-powered Water Leaders Session that featured a panel of top leaders in the water community?s consulting, finance, and public service sectors. The group shared their perspectives on water in the coming decade, including some of the anticipated challenges and innovations in policy, governance, finance, infrastructure, public safety and health, technology, and R&D. Moderated by former U.S. EPA Administrator G. Tracy Mehan III (Principal of the Cadmus Group), the panel included Gretchen McClain (President of ITT Fluid and Motion Control), Laurent Auguste (President and CEO of Veolia Water North Americas), Dan McCarthy (President and CEO of Black & Veatch Water), David Gray (Managing Director of Global Industrial Services for Credit Suisse), and Jeff Eger.

Another highlight was the Utility Executives Forum that examined the challenges faced by utilities during this time of economic uncertainty. Attendees heard about the outlook for the water sector as well as opportunities for innovation by using new approaches to financing, organization, and technology through firsthand accounts by venture capitalist David Henderson (Managing Director of XPV Capital Corp.), Richard Fox (Chairman & CEO of Camp Dresser & McKee) and top executives representing three utilities from across the country, Tim Houghton (Executive Assistant for the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii), Bill Gaffi (General Manager of Clean Water Services, Hillsboro, Ore.), and George Hawkins (General Manager of DC Water, Washington, D.C.).

At Monday?s popular and well-attended Opening General Session, attendees were greeted by a special video welcome from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that was followed by different, yet complimentary presentations from keynote presenters Dr. Rita Colwell, a distinguished university professor and world-renowned expert on water borne diseases, and Doc Henley, founder and president of the non-profit international aid organization, Wine To Water. The two keynote speakers both gave insightful and inspirational presentations about the vital connection between clean water and public health. The high-profile program also featured Jeff Eger and WEF President Jeanette Brown who presented the WEF 2011 Public Officials Award to L.A. City Council?s President Pro Tempore Jan Perry and recognized the 2011 U.S. and international Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner, Alison Bick as well as the 2011 U.S. finalists.

On Tuesday, Brown ceremoniously ?passed the gavel? of Federation leadership to incoming President Matt Bond 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.

Other conference highlights included the construction of a ?Walkway to Wetlands? in downtown L.A. by WEF?s Students and Young Professionals Committee; the 2011 WEF Student Design Competition; the AEESP/WEF Lecture and the AEESP/WEF Scientists? Luncheon that featured presentations about sustainability and water reuse from Dr. Perry L. McCarty and UCLA Professor Dr. Michael Stenstrom, respectively; and the 2011 Operations Challenge Competition that was won by the 2010 defending champions, Terminal Velocity from the Virginia Water Environment Association.

WEFTEC is recognized as the world?s largest annual water quality event and provides the latest technologies and services for water environment preservation, restoration, and sustainability. WEFTEC 2011 was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, October 15-19.

WEFTEC 2012 is scheduled for September 29 through October 3, 2012 in New Orleans, La. In anticipation of a successful showing next year, more than 700 companies have already reserved nearly 280,000 square feet of floor space at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

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