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.

April 2010, Vol. 47, No. 3

Top Story

Share Your Haiti Restoration Effort in ‘Highlights’

The publications-team at the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) is looking for stories of individual members and company members participating in the restoration efforts in Haiti. If you have a story to share, especially volunteer work, please send a short description of your work to Highlights Editor Jennifer Fulcher at jfulcher@wef.org.

What Were They Drinking?

The Revigator Advertisement Small It was the Roaring Twenties and, along with flapper dresses and bootleg whiskey, Americans were all atwitter over the latest health craze. From New York to Los Angeles, scientists and doctors were endorsing the health-enhancing benefits of what one writer at the time heralded “the newest miracle of modern science.”

He was talking about the Revigator.

And what exactly, you may wonder, did this miracle of modern science do? According to the 20-page booklet published in 1928 by its manufacturer, it restored to water “the lost element of original freshness radioactivity.”  

Wacky Science
A good idea? Hardly. But keep in mind, this was early in the 20th century, and radioactivity was still a relatively new discovery. It would be at least a decade before scientists would discover that exposure to radiation caused cells in the body to mutate, making it a leading cause of cancer, according to Michael Epstein, a chemistry professor at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md.
The front page of a booklet promoting the Revigator. Photo courtesy of Michael Epstein, assistant professor at Mount Saint Mary's University (Emmitsburg, Md). Click for larger image.

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Houston Competition Sparks Enthusiasm in Low-Impact Development

More than 200 professionals from various backgrounds participated in the Low Impact Development (LID) Design Competition in Houston, which ran Sept. 1, 2009, to Jan. 27, 2010. The approach taken by the competition host, the Houston Land/Water Sustainability Forum, is one other municipalities may want to consider as a way to raise awareness and broaden knowledge and acceptance of LID among the engineering community.

Competition participants were tasked with developing a stormwater management plan for an actual local property open for development, relying mainly on LID. Proposed project costs could be no greater than those of conventional stormwater management technology for 5-year, 10-year, and 100-year storm events. The three project categories — suburban residential, green roadway, and urban redevelopment — each had its own stormwater management problems, according to Robert Adair, steering committee chairman of the forum and president of Construction EcoServices (Houston). 
 LID -Presentation Small
From left Doug Coenen with Walter P. Moore (Houston) discusses his company’s project with Dan Hassebroek with Kirksey (Houston). Photo courtesy of Eric Hester, Darnart (Houston). Click for larger image.   

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From the President: Examining the Successes, Frustration, and Future of Clean Water

Freedman Small
Paul Freedman, 2009–2010 WEF President.
This month marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, an event that helped inspire many of us to dedicate our careers to restoring and protecting our nation’s water quality. So, after 4 decades, have we made a difference? Are we on the right path to ensuring that high-quality water is available for future generations? 

I have mixed feelings, including pride in our successes, frustration at addressing current problems, and optimism about the future. Let me elaborate. 

Pride and Frustration
In the U.S., since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, we have eliminated the major problems of the 1960s and 1970s, primarily untreated or poorly treated wastewater. The country spent hundreds of billions of dollars and had great success. The burning Cuyahoga River was transformed; fire boats were replaced by water taxis in the 1980s, and pictures of dead fish were replaced by data showing vibrant, diverse populations. Lake Erie, once declared dead by the press, now has clear waters and a tourist and fishing industry worth billions. We have a lot to make us proud.

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Johnson Appointed Chair of NACEPT

Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) member James H. Johnson Jr. has been appointed as chair of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. Founded in 1998 by EPA, NACEPT operates as an independent committee that advises the agency on a range of environmental policy, technology, and management issues.

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WEF Board Adopts Three Position Statements

On Feb. 5, the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Board of Trustees adopted three revised WEF position statements.

Revisions were made in response to a review last year by the WEF Government Affairs Committee. Based on this review, revisions were made to refine and update the following position statements:

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In Memoriam: W. Wesley Eckenfelder Jr., Wastewater Management Pioneer

In Memoriam - Eckenfelder
Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.) School of Engineering.
William Wesley Eckenfelder Jr., 83, a pioneer in the field of water treatment and authority in industrial wastewater management, died March 28.

Eckenfelder, known as the “godfather” or “grandfather” of industrial wastewater management by colleagues and students, most recently worked as a technical director at AquAeTer (Nashville, Tenn.), according to a Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.) School of Engineering news release. Throughout his career he was the founder of several companies, and an environmental engineering professor at Manhattan College (Riverdale, N.Y.), University of Texas–Austin, and Vanderbilt University. He also authored more than 30 technical books and hundreds of journal articles, the news release says.

“He influenced and taught thousands of us engineers and scientists through his books, workshops, and courses,” said WEF member Joseph G. Cleary, principal at HydroQual Inc. “He truly was one of a kind and a living legend who will be greatly missed.”  

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