WEF's membership newsletter covers current Federation activities, Member Association news, and items of concern to the water quality field. WEF Highlights is your source for the most up-to-the-minute WEF news and member information.



November 2011, Vol. 48, No. 9

Top Story

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby — or Have We?

Women engineers cite “workplace climate” as key factor in decision to leave 


For Nadya Fouad and Romila Singh, the numbers didn’t add up. After decades of work and millions of dollars spent by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the nation's universities to boost the number of women earning engineering degrees, more than 20% of engineering school graduates now are female. But only 11% of today’s practicing engineers are female. What’s more, women leave the profession at four to five times the rate of men.

Fouad and Singh, professors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UMW), wanted to find out why. With funding from the National Science Foundation, they tapped into the female engineering alumnae from 30 universities. The researchers suspected their questions might touch a raw nerve. But even they were taken aback by the deluge of responses and the passion of the women who were eager to share their experiences.

Women Engineers - Nadya & Romila Small
From left, University of Wisconsin–Madison professors Romila Singh and Nadya Fouad performed a study that identified the reasons why female engineering alumnae leave the engineering profession. Photo courtesy of Alan Magayne-Roshak. Click for larger image.
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Bio Cremation™ Returns Bodies to the Environment


BioCremator SmallBIO Cremation Water Recycling Chart Small

For those who like the idea of cremation but don’t like the emissions or energy use associated with traditional fire-based cremation, another “green” option now is available.

Alkaline hydrolysis reduces human bodies to bones
Bio Cremation™ is cremation through the water-based resolving process of alkaline hydrolysis. During the process, a human body is placed in a pressurized stainless steel chamber, where water and the alkali solution potassium hydroxide are added, and the temperature is raised to 177°C (350°F). The water and alkali solution, heat, and pressure combine to cause a chemical reaction that reduces a body to bones.  

©2010 — Matthews Cremation Division
From left, the Bio Cremation™ stainless steel chamber, and the "green" process that follows cremation. Photos courtesy of Steven Schaal, Matthews Cremation. Click for larger images.
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From the President: Some Members Don’t Even Know It’s Included


In my first column after being given the honor of serving as president of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), I wanted to highlight some of the tremendous WEF member benefits that I have come to find many don’t know about.

“It’s not free; it’s included” is a favorite saying in my family. My sons would always say that something is free, such as the “free” breakfast at a hotel or the “free” kayak rental at an all-inclusive resort. I always have had to remind them that such amenities are not actually free, but rather “included” as part of the basic charge.  

This is similar within WEF: Extremely valuable member benefits are included in your membership. As I have traveled to more than 25 Member Association and WEFMAX meetings, I have been able to tell many local member association leaders and members about WEF programs and services of which they weren’t aware.  

Matt Bond
Matt Bond, 2011–2012 WEF President
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Water-Sector Utilities Rally Around World Water Monitoring Day


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Every year, World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) inspires children and adults to protect the planet’s water resources. Groups from around the world use test kits to monitor local waterways and then submit their monitoring results, pictures, and stories to the WWMD website.

The international water monitoring initiative, coordinated by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) in partnership with the International Water Association (IWA; London), is designed to increase global water awareness and encourage individuals to get directly involved in protecting their local waterways.

Students and organizations participate in D.C. event
On Sept. 19, approximately 200 students and 20 local environmental organizations participated in the fifth annual Washington, D.C., WWMD celebration, hosted by WEF and IWA at Hains Point in East Potomac Park.  

Dorn Sanders of the Water Environment Federation leads students through a water monitoring activity while WJLA Meteorologist Bob Ryan looks on. Photo courtesy of Allison O’Brien. Click for larger image.

See more photos from the D.C. event in the 2011 World Water Monitoring Day gallery.
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Virginia Tech Database Provides Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Information for All


Find a platform for sharing and disseminating water and wastewater infrastructure information with this month’s online resource, WATERiD, the WATER Infrastructure Database.

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Photo courtesy of Sunil K. Sinha, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg).
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