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. 

May 2010, Vol. 47, No. 4

Top Story

Life Members and YPs: Dedicated to the Profession

Being a part of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria Va.) is important to many members on both a professional and personal level. The relationship between WEF and its members is mutually beneficial; services and benefits available to members often inspire a sense of dedication and desire to be regularly involved in the federation, which in turn enables WEF to be a successful organization.

Members’ dedication is apparent in both WEF’s long-term members and newcomers to the organization.

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Life Membership
WEF life member status is given to those who have been active members for at least 35 years and have reached the age of 65, but life member Dan Smith’s dedication to WEF goes beyond even this remarkable achievement. Smith’s relationship with WEF began when he joined as a student member in 1967. During his 43 years of membership, Smith has attended 30 annual conferences, participated in various committees, and, as a professor, sent many of his graduate students to WEF’s annual conferences.

“I’ve developed a lot of friends, colleagues, and contacts all over the world from people I’ve met at the conferences,” Smith said. While he was pursuing a master’s degree in sanitary engineering at San Jose (Calif.) State University, Smith’s advisor sent him to his first annual conference in New York in 1967. “It was a real eye-opener to me in terms of the depth of the field of wastewater engineering,” he said. “Developing rules to not only protect public health but also the environment, that was all very appealing, and seeing it all exposed at the conference had a tremendous impact on me at that time.”

WEF life member Dan Smith. Photo courtesy of Smith. Click for larger image.
Smith continued his education as a Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas (Lawrence) and attended another WEF conference in Chicago. In 1971, he became a full WEF member through the Alaska Water Management Association (Anchorage). Currently, he is a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta (Edmonton).

Educating students in the field is one of Smith’s proudest accomplishments, and encouraging them to attend at least one WEF annual conference is a large part of their education, Smith explained. He hopes that the experience will expand their horizons as it did for him. “I think it’s really important for the students to put a human face on this [wastewater engineering] work that they’re working on,” he said. “It’s all made a tremendous impact on their vision of the field and understanding, in a real hands-on way, the scope of wastewater engineering.”

“For me, the journal and the literature review in particular are extremely valuable in learning about new things that are happening,” Smith said. He uses WEF’s annual literature review as a teaching tool, asking graduate students to use what has been identified in the review as a base to start their research, he said. Also, he compiles all issues of Water Environment Research and makes them available for student research and will have students critique journal papers as an assignment.

Through the years, Smith has participated in WEF’s Public Relations Committee, Program Committee, and Literature Review Committee; participated in specialty workshops for his local association; attended various WEF specialty conferences; and presented papers at WEF annual conferences. 

Student and Young Professional Membership
WEF’s young professionals (YPs) may be newer to the water quality field than life members, but their desire to be widely and consistently involved in WEF is no less apparent. Take, for instance, YP member Haley Falconer, who joined WEF as a student member in May 2006 and hasn’t missed attending an annual conference yet. As an undergraduate at North Dakota State University (Fargo) pursuing civil engineering, she was approached by a fellow student to compete in WEF’s student design competition. Since then, her involvement in WEF has grown.

At Falconer’s second conference, she sat in on the Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) meeting and became interested in helping organize a proposed annual service project. After expressing interest to the SYPC, she soon became co-chair and now is chair of the project. “The nice thing about the Students and Young Professionals Committee is that if you show any interest in anything, you’re given the responsibility to be a subcommittee lead or to help with a particular task,” she said. “So you get to slowly get more and more involved and learn a lot about the organization.”

Falconer received a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Washington State University (Pullman) and started working at HDR (Omaha, Neb.) as water/wastewater project engineer in January. “Professionally, just being able to meet so many people has really opened up so many doors,” she said. Contacts she made through WEF helped her get her current job, she added.

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SYPC Community Service Project Chair Haley Falconer at the committee's 2009 community service project. Photo courtesy of Frank Crilley. Click for larger image.
As a part of the SYPC, Falconer gets to meet people with similar interests at a similar point in their lives and gets the ability to influence the way the group grows, she said. “I like being a part of the organization, being a part of the decision-making process and the direction that something’s going to head,” she said.

Falconer believes in the SYPC and loves that being involved keeps her motivated. “It’s a way to keep things fresh,” she said. “It’s a way to know I really am giving back.” She also has attended one YP Summit and WEFMAX meeting, and two regional WEF Member Association conferences, she said. For the future she wants to expand her involvement in WEF by looking for more technical ways to participate. She expects to continue as an active WEF member for the foreseeable future. “I don’t see myself not being involved,” she said.


Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
Getting Students Out of the Streets and Into the Water

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The hands-on program Rocking the Boat is helping to empower and educate underprivileged students in New York City’s South Bronx. The program began operating as a nonprofit in 2001, getting local students to help build traditional wood boats. Soon after this, the program expanded to take students out on waterways in the boats they build for on-the-water education.

Rocking the Boat started as an after-school program. Executive Director Adam Green worked as a teacher after college and was looking for a way to make a difference. “I found that it was just a very exciting way of working with young people,” he said.

“I was really looking for a more experience-based way of getting kids excited about life,” Green said. “The primary goal of the work was to give young people a sense of empowerment and purpose, and reason for getting up in the morning.” The program gives youth something tangible to be proud of and brings to life the lessons they learn in the classroom while teaching them additional lessons, he said.

Deveron Jackson, program assistant for Rocking the Boat (New York), tests for dissolved oxygen while a student records the data. Photo courtesy of Adam Green, executive director of Rocking the Boat. Click for larger image.

Through the On-Water Education program, broken into three semester-long sessions, student groups go out on the river to either learn maritime skills or conduct environmental restoration. For the environmental restoration portion of the program, Rocking the Boat identifies scientific partners that have projects the students can help carry out, Green said.

“We’re actually working for scientists, implementing their ideas and their projects on the river,” Green said. “The work that we’re doing is real environmental science work.” It has an external impact that goes beyond the learning experience, he added.

Currently, the students are working on eight different projects, including river restoration, oyster gardening, water monitoring, bird surveys, oyster-reef enhancement and monitoring, salt-marsh habitat monitoring, and two aquatic-species monitoring projects, Green said. The scientific partners include the Natural Resources Group (New York), Bronx River Alliance, New York City Audubon Society, Lehman College (New York), and the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper (Keyport, N.J.).

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Rocking the Boat Director of Public Programs Chrissy Word works with a student to measure the growth of oyster spat. Photo courtesy of Rocking the Boat Executive Director Adam Green. Click for larger image.
The nonprofit receives funding through grants for taking part in this scientific work. “At this point, a lot of our funding comes through grants, not to teach science but to do science,” Green said. “It’s been very successful.”

Students participating in either the On-Water Education or the Boatbuilding program also receive help from two guidance counselors. A student advocate counselor focuses on developing the students’ life skills and helping them succeed in school, and a job skills advocate counselor focuses on helping students develop job and college skills, according to Rocking the Boat’s press packet.

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Students with at least two semesters of boat building and/or on-water experience are eligible to become a job skills apprentice, the press packet says. Apprentices earn a wage to either work on building boats or conduct environmental restoration as a way to practice and improve their skills.

Rocking the Boat also reaches out to the community. The On-Water Group program, an extension of the education program, allows schools, professionals, teachers, and community groups to participate in customized on-the-water educational programs. And a free weekly Community Rowing program enables the public to row, fish, and learn about the Bronx River, the press packet says. The nonprofit also holds four community events a year to celebrate boat launches and to celebrate the middle of a semester, Green said. The nonprofit’s community and youth development programs reach more than 2500 students and local residents each year.

Rocking the Boat student tests the alkalinity of Bronx River water. Photo courtesy of Green. Click for larger image. 


Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
In Memoriam: M. Gordon ‘Reds’ Wolman, Professor, Johns Hopkins University

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M. Gordon “Reds” Wolman, a specialist in water resources management and geography professor at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) for more than 50 years, died Feb. 24 at the age of 85.

Wolman was an advocate for cleaning Chesapeake Bay and for protecting Maryland’s water resources. “The environmental community has lost a giant, and he will be sorely missed,” said Pearl Laufer, Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member and president of Laufer and Associates (Columbia, Md.).

Wolman received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Johns Hopkins in 1949 and a doctorate in geology from Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.), according to a Johns Hopkins University Gazette article. He worked as a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey from 1951 to 1958 before accepting a position as chair of the Geography Department at Johns Hopkins.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hartlove. Click for larger image.

Wolman was the son of well-known Johns Hopkins professor Abel Wolman, a sanitary engineer who pioneered the chlorination process in public water, the Gazette article says. The two worked alongside each other at the university for more than 30 years until Abel Wolman died in 1989, according to a Washington Post article.

Wolman helped create the university’s Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, which he chaired until 1990, the Gazette article says. He held the B. Howell Griswold Jr. Professorship in Geography and International Affairs from 1975 until his death. In addition, he was elected to both the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

“Reds was a featured speaker at the [WEF 2003 Residuals and Biosolids] conference in Baltimore,” said Lori Stone, WEF member and biosolids global practice and technology leader at Black & Veatch (Overland Park, Kan.). “[He] was a very gracious and energetic speaker.”

Memorial contributions can be sent to The Johns Hopkins University, 126 New Engineering Building, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218, to benefit the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering.



Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights
Web Site Resources — U.S. EPA Rulemaking Gateway
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new Web site that provides the public with an additional opportunity to participate in its rulemaking process. The Rulemaking Gateway serves as a portal to view EPA’s priority rules, providing citizens with earlier and more concise information about agency regulations, according to an EPA news release.
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Photos courtesy of Dave Ryan, press officer, EPA. Click for larger images.
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Users can find rules by using a search engine, scrolling through a complete list of rules, and browsing rules by phase, topic, or area. The site also includes the link to a discussion forum, which will be open through July 16 for citizens to suggest enhancements to the site.

The Rulemaking Gateway complements the federal government’s main portal for tracking rules, www.Regulations.gov, by providing brief overviews of EPA rules, allowing citizens to find rules of interest, and including links for more-comprehensive information, the news release says.

Do you have a fun or useful Web resource to share? Send a link to your favorite water Web site with a description of what it is and why you think it is useful for water professionals to Highlights Editor Jennifer Fulcher at jfulcher@wef.org.