More than 17,000 water professionals, nearly 1,000 exhibitors attended conference and exhibition in Orlando
A total of 17,722 water professionals and 995 exhibitors attended WEFTEC.09, the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 82nd annual technical exhibition and conference, in Orlando, Fla.
"As always, this year's exhibition was very well attended and was a great forum for identifying business opportunities and generating new leads," said Kevin Marsh, vice president of flow sales with the Hach Co. “Hall traffic was brisk and we were pleased to see an increased number of senior-level professionals visit our booth, many of which showed serious interest in our products.”
“We know there’s a recession out there and it has not passed us by,” added WEF Executive Director Bill Bertera. “But this year’s numbers are a strong indication that WEFTEC is where people come to do business…to learn about the latest developments and research in the water quality field. We will continue to meet the needs of our members and the water profession…especially as municipal and private sector revenues are challenged by the economy.”
The conference featured a high-quality technical program of 122 technical sessions, 31 workshops, nine facility tours and several high-profile events. Of particular interest to attendees was a special session featuring Peter Silva, the new assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water. Silva discussed his priorities for EPA’s water program, the status of stimulus funding for water infrastructure and the Obama Administration’s agenda for the national water program. Other popular sessions and workshops included in-depth topics such as private sewer system management, innovative applications of the small-scale use of reclaimed water, water infrastructure investment, recent developments in membrane bioreactor technology and improved energy efficiency for wastewater treatment plants and processes.
At Monday’s well-attended Opening General Session, keynote presenter Dr. Mike Magee gave an insightful presentation about the nexus between access to potable water and public health. Referencing his book, Healthy Waters: What Every Health Professional Should Know About Water, Magee highlighted the facts and figures about water and its enormous impact on quality of life and public health. He also thanked the water professionals in attendance for their invaluable service to the community and encouraged collaboration between to the two professions. “It is my hope that in addressing this complex issue together, we will broaden the social context of health, engage health partners in water management and planning, and advance health as the leading edge of human development,” he said. Other opening session highlights included remarks from 2008-2009 WEF President Rebecca West, recognition of two of WEF’s most prestigious awards and the introduction of the 2009 Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners.
On Tuesday, West ceremoniously “passed the gavel” of Federation leadership to incoming President Paul Freedman and inducted the 2009-2010 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. In all, over 25 awards were presented at various events during the four-day conference.
Other conference highlights included a successful community service project organized by WEF’s Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC); the SYPC’s Career Fair; the 2009 WEF Student Design Competition, including the two first place winning teams from the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Florida; WEF’s Global Center; the AAEE/AIDIS/WEF Breakfast; the AEESP/WEF Lecture and Scientists’ Luncheon; and the 2009 Operations Challenge Competition that was won by the 2008 defending champions, TRA CReWSers from the Water Environment Association of Texas.
WEFTEC 2010 is scheduled for October 2 to 6, 2010, in New Orleans. The Call for Abstracts is now open and more than 700 companies have already reserved over 90% of floor space at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.