WEF developing Hurricane Katrina technical session for WEFTEC.05

The Water Environment Federation announces the development of a new technical session on Hurricane Katrina for WEFTEC.05. The session is expected to feature a panel of experts who will discuss the storm's impacts to local water quality, public health, and the environment, as well as the status of recovery efforts in the devastated areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama...

ALEXANDRIA, VA, Sept. 15, 2005 -- The Water Environment Federation (WEF) announces the development of a new technical session on Hurricane Katrina for WEFTEC®.05. The session is expected to feature a panel of experts who will discuss the storm's impacts to local water quality, public health, and the environment, as well as the status of recovery efforts in the devastated areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast region over two weeks ago, WEF has been working with a wide range of local, state and federal agencies to best address current needs and assist in long-term recovery efforts, particularly those related to the restoration of clean water and sanitation services. Currently, the Federation has joined in the call for financial contributions to disaster relief agencies and is supporting Gulf Coast-area water utilities by encouraging its members and other professionals to register with the Department of Homeland Security's National Emergency Resource Registry

"Up to this point, WEF has deferred to those on the ground in the Gulf Coast region to address immediate needs," said WEF President Lynn Orphan. "Now, as we move towards recovery of the affected areas, the Federation felt that it was important to organize a forum for experts to discuss issues directly related to the short and long-term challenges faced by local water quality professionals and city officials."

Session focus areas include:
• Impacts on water and wastewater facilities;
• Status of recovery efforts;
• Estimated costs and timeline for repairing and rebuilding water and wastewater facilities;
• Emergency planning and lessons learned;
• Impacts on water quality and the Louisiana coastal wetlands;
• Impacts for public health; and
• Short and long-term impacts of water contamination.

"Right now, the most dangerous materials in the water are human waste and decaying organic matter," said WEF Member and Session Moderator Don Blancher (Toxicological and Environmental Associates, Inc., Mobile, Ala.). "The long-term challenges will relate to a variety of chemical compounds including petroleum products and solvents from gas stations, pesticides, and other household products. Since we don't know how much of this will actually be released into local waters, there is a tremendous need for assessment of these issues."

The session's panel will be comprised of federal officials, utility professionals, and consultants with direct knowledge of these issues and the Gulf Coast region. Content will follow-up technical sessions from WEFTEC.04 held last October at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

WEFTEC annually draws over 16,000 water quality professionals from around the world to learn the latest practices, solutions, regulations, and emerging technologies in their field. Attendees include engineers, plant operators, scientists, and academicians, making it a natural host for this forum. To be held Oct. 29-Nov. 2 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, the conference will feature 112 technical sessions, 25 workshops, 11 interactive facility tours, and over 800 exhibiting companies.

Please visit the conference website at www.weftec.org for the latest developments of this special session and for more information about the conference.

Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (www.wef.org) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with members from varied disciplines who work toward the WEF vision of preservation and enhancement of the global water environment. The WEF network includes water quality professionals from 76 member associations in 30 countries.

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