WEFTEC.08 is largest in conference's 81-year history
Record-setting numbers of 21,950 attendees and 1,111 companies using 290,000 net square feet of exhibit space have designated WEFTEC.08 -- the Water Environment Federation's 81st Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference -- as the largest event in its 81-year history. The previous records of 19,929 attendees, 1,017 companies and 268,405 net square feet of floor space were set just last year at WEFTEC.07 in San Diego...
ALEXANDRIA, VA, Oct. 28, 2008 -- Record-setting numbers of 21,950 attendees and 1,111 companies using 290,000 net square feet of exhibit space have designated WEFTEC.08 -- the Water Environment Federation's 81st Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference -- as the largest event in its 81-year history. The previous records of 19,929 attendees, 1,017 companies and 268,405 net square feet of floor space were set just last year at WEFTEC.07 in San Diego.
Last week's conference was the premier gathering of water environment professionals that 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, stormwater 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.
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President Adam Zabinski officially launched Phase I of WEF's new website, establishing the organization as the 'go-to' resource for the world's best science, engineering and technical practices in water quality. The new homepage includes WEF's first Water Blog which will alternate with Water Heroes' features and WEF news. A new gateway -- "Access Water Knowledge" offers entry to WEF periodicals and e proceedings as well as 17 new Knowledge Centers.
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.
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain were represented by Cameron Davis and Marianne Horinko, respectively, at a campaign forum. Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and State Senator Carole Pamkau also participated in the session which was attended by over 400. Moderator Jack Conaty, Chicago Fox News political editor, led a lively and exciting discussion of the candidate's views on climate change, water quality, infrastructure investment, and other critical issues.
Of particular interest were workshops on the "Challenges posed by Emerging Contaminants" by Dr. David L. Sedlak, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Berkeley and "Evolving Urban Water and Residuals Management Paradigms: Water Reclamation and Reuse, Decentralization, Energy Production, Resource Recovery" presented by Dr. Glen T. Daigger, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for CH2M HILL.
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, over 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 stormwater mitigation drainage to a previously plain turf area.
Other conference highlights included WEFTeach, poster presentations, student activities, and the Operations Challenge 2008 where the Water Environment Association of Texas Trinity River Authority (TRA) CReWSers won the Division I competition against a record 43 teams from the United States, Canada and Argentina. Second place was won by the LA Wrecking Crew, California Water Environment Association and third place went to Ohio Water Environment Association, "s.C.R.A.P.P.E.R.S." Division II was captured by the Virginia Water Environment Association's Terminal Velocity team. Second place was won by the Wasatch All-Stars Water Environment Association of Utah, and third place went to "Wasted Gas" of the Water Environment Association of Utah. The Student Design Competition was won by a team from the University of Florida.
Formed in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with 35,000 individual members and 81 affiliated Member Associations representing an additional 50,000 water quality professionals throughout the world.