many ways, the 87th annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition
and Conference (WEFTEC®) will be much like the previous 86 — packed
with reliable and useful information on water and wastewater operations and
engineering as well as a vibrant exhibition showing off the latest technologies
and solutions. But much has changed this year as well.
This year’s conference offers several
enhancements that open the experience to new audiences, take full advantage of
technology, and capture and share the expertise and opinions of everyone
present. WEFTEC 2013 is not about attending, listening, or seeing; it’s about
participating, interacting, and sharing.
To help ensure that as many water
professionals as possible experience all that WEFTEC has to offer, WEF and the WEFTEC exhibitors worked together
to streamline registration categories and reduce prices.
In fact, all
registration fees have been reduced and simplified for WEFTEC 2013. Now
full-conference and one-day attendees will pay less for the same amount of
content and be free from navigating date-sensitive specials and
In addition, for WEFTEC 2013 there is no
charge for exhibition-only registration, which is provided compliments of WEF
and the WEFTEC exhibitors. To get the no-charge exhibition-only registration,
attendees must register online. (There is a $50 fee for exhibition-only
registration if attendees do not take advantage of online registration.) Visit www.weftec.org/register
for full details.
Attendees also can benefit from this year’s WEFTEC Mobile App, which has been completely
reimagined and redesigned. This helpful preshow planning and onsite navigation
tool is available for tablets and smartphones for Android, Apple, BlackBerry,
and Windows devices. It enables users to build a schedule to make the most of
WEFTEC on the go. WEFTEC Mobile also can be accessed via the Web, giving users
the ability to create a schedule on one device and access it on another. Visit
to access the WEFTEC Mobile App.
The app features are
dashboard provides up-to-the-minute exhibitor, speaker, and conference program
creates a schedule with one click.
deliver important real-time communications.
2013 News keeps attendees current on the news stories of the day.
media feeds let users participate in show chatter.
abilities enable users to comment on sessions and events.
interactive floor map helps to locate exhibitors.
Friends feature lets users connect with colleagues.
photo gallery collects event photos and experiences to share.
accommodation helps attendees plan their Chicago travel and lodging.
The new pricing options
and better technology integration all serve the same purpose: to make WEFTEC as
accessible and useful to as many members of the water sector as possible. This
year also includes special focuses for two particular groups: operators and
Since the beginning of
sanitation, operators have been the backbone of effective treatment. WEFTEC
exists in large part to help operators find the information they need. The
article on p. 20 details precisely which sessions, tracks, and opportunities
have been especially designed to help operators learn, interact, and network at
On the other end of the spectrum, stormwater
professionals are relative newcomers to the wastewater sector. However, as
green solutions emerge to stormwater and overflow challenges faced by
utilities, stormwater practitioners are becoming valuable partners. To that
end, WEF has co-located the Stormwater Congress with WEFTEC 2013 to foster
continued interaction and collaboration. Read the article on p. 26 for details.
— Steve Spicer,
offers a bounty of hands-on learning opportunities for operators
WEFTEC© 2013 offers something for everyone,
and water-sector operators will find a range of topics and activities designed
for them. Operators only have to look for sessions and workshops listed under
“Facility Operations and Maintenance” on the program to find events designed
especially for those in the profession, according to Chibby Alloway, chair of
the WEFTEC Program Facility Operations and Maintenance Subcommittee.
mission is to make sure WEFTEC incorporates topics that “have experienced
operational efficiencies or have gone through an operational test or an
evaluation,” Alloway said. These sessions and workshops portray “practical
applications” of the research and technology also featured at WEFTEC, he added.
Key features of WEFTEC
this year include workshops and the complimentary exhibition floor. Both offer
opportunities to learn about the range of topics that appeal to operators,
Alloway explained. Topics cover everything found in a treatment facility, from
laboratory and treatment processes to asset management and workforce issues.
Bring on the interactive learning in workshops
in-depth and interactive learning opportunities each year. “Workshops are
always very informative and hands-on,” Alloway said. Workshop 20, “Activated
Sludge and BNR [Biological Nutrient Removal] Process Control: Hands-On in the
Real World,” is one example. The Oct. 6 workshop will be held at the John Egan
Water Reclamation Plant in Schaumburg, Ill., where presenters will demonstrate
process-control tests, measurement techniques, and troubleshooting methods
focusing on the BNR activated sludge system.
Take advantage of the complimentary exhibition
New this year, attendees
who register in advance online can experience the technical exhibition free of
charge, courtesy of the exhibitors. The registration includes the opportunity
to participate in the many educational opportunities on the exhibition floor,
including the mobile, technical, and exhibitor showcase sessions, as well as
the innovation and stormwater pavilions and theaters.
Participating in this
year’s exhibition offers an “incredible opportunity,” Alloway said. The
exhibition enables operators to “walk up and talk to any expert … from any type
of treatment facility that they would ever come across,” Alloway said. The
opportunity is particularly valuable for operators working at facilities
planning for a future expansion, looking to install a new technology, or
expecting a permit change, he said. And operators should attend many years in
advance of any of these events to be prepared early in planning phases, he
Navigate the exhibition with WEF’s mobile app and website
The Water Environment
Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) has provided a new mobile app that attendees
can access on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices or online at http://app.core-apps.com/weftec2013.
In addition to finding
and adding WEFTEC events to a personal schedule, the app enables users to
search for exhibitors based on topic area, view a map of the exhibit floor
on-the-go, and take advantage of a “locate me” option that provides walking
directions from their current location to the exhibitor they want to visit.
“Anybody’s that’s been there for the first time is just amazed at how big [the
exhibition] is,” Alloway said. The new app also is a useful tool to optimize
one’s time on the floor, he said.
Go mobile in the exhibit hall
Mobile sessions combine
educational presentations on a topic with in-depth information on technologies
related to that topic. “You actually get taken to specific vendors, and the
vendors have specific pitches and discussion items,” Alloway said.
Mobile Session 324,
“Innovative Inline Technologies Support Treatment Plant Process Decisions,”
starts in the exhibit hall at Booth 161 on Oct. 8. The session highlights the
link between the laboratory and plant operations, focusing on innovative
in-line analytical technologies. Participants will be able to see these types
of technologies, which can help treatment plant operators monitor and optimize
Attend a session on the exhibit floor
also can access technical sessions on the floor. Technical Session (TS) 310,
“Laboratory Done Right,” and TS 412, “Fueling Human Energy To Achieve
Operational Excellence,” are designed to appeal to operators. Both sessions
take place on Oct. 8 at Booth 161.
In the morning at TS
310, attendees will learn how laboratory results and innovative technologies
can be used by treatment plant operators to make operational decisions to
optimize treatment processes. In the afternoon at TS 412, attendees will learn
how agencies have adopted practices to successfully develop and replace wastewater
treatment workforce to achieve operational excellence.
Take advantage of other events and learning opportunities at WEFTEC
Operators also can watch
their peers compete in the 26th Annual Operations Challenge. Teams of operators
compete Oct. 7 in process-control and laboratory events, and Oct. 8 in
maintenance, collections, and safety events.
In addition, posters
outside of technical sessions require no preregistration and enable interaction
with presenters. “You can talk directly with the principal investigator [who]
wrote the paper,” Alloway said.
Attending WEFTEC is
especially important so operators can learn about new equipment and
technologies that may be needed or recommended for their facilities. “You want
to have some insight, and the only way to have insight is to have knowledge,
and that’s really what WEFTEC can give you,” Alloway said. “There’s a lot of
data and a lot of information to make informed recommendations and decisions.”
WEFTEC gives operators
the opportunity to take practical knowledge back to their facilities while
earning continuing education units to obtain certification renewals, Alloway
said. He recommends that attendees make a plan of action by first listing
technical topics they want to learn about, then finding and registering for
sessions or events that provide the information they need, and, finally,
mapping out technologies and booths they want to see on the exhibit floor
Cordell Samuels, WEF president 2012–2013
Why did you decide
to become an operator?
I started in
operations after getting laid off from the maintenance department in the city
of Toronto in 1983. I was drawn to the sector because of all the heavy
equipment that was in use in the plants, as well as all the learning I would be
exposed to, and needed to do the job. There were a lot of challenges presented,
and I was keen to learn.
What’s the best thing about working in the
wastewater treatment sector as an operator?
The knowledge that daily I am making a
valuable contribution to public health. When I was younger, I lost a couple of
my relatives and almost lost my brother and sister to an outbreak of
gastroenteritis. This was an outbreak that occurred every year during the rainy
season. This drives me to work hard every day and make any other contribution I
can to protect others.
What skills and personalities make for
the best operators?
The ability to learn and apply what is
taught makes for the best operators. Attention to detail, calmness in difficult
circumstances, and quick thinking ... are great skills, which enhance the
operator’s work. A person who does not take themselves too seriously and can
bounce back quickly from setbacks is the best personality trait for an
Are great operators born or made?
I believe that great operators are made. The
ability to learn and apply what was learned is an indispensable quality of an
operator. There are new methods, processes, and approaches that constantly are
being introduced into the day-to-day operation of a wastewater recovery
facility. For example, almost everything is changed in the plant since I
started in the business. What has served me well has been the ability and
willingness to adapt and learn many new things.
How important is it to have qualified,
The new facilities and processes constantly
require well-trained operators. New legislation and the constant reduction of
the compliance limits demand that persons running the facilities and processes
are well-trained to begin with and are constantly being upgraded in their
training. The best, most-qualified graduates are needed in this industry now
more than ever.
When and why did you attend your first
I attended my first WEFTEC in Chicago in the
1990s. I attended as a result of my involvement in Operations Challenge in
Ontario, where I was the coordinator of the Water Environment Association of
Ontario [WEAO] competition, and traveled with the team from the city of Toronto.
I got involved with the WEF [Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.)]
Operations Challenge committee at that time and have never missed a WEFTEC
What surprised you most as an
operations expert when you came to WEFTEC?
I was first enthralled by the microbiology
workshop. I was so impressed that on my return home I organized a 2-day seminar
with [the presenter] on the weekend of the next WEAO conference. The size of
the trade show even then was an eye-opener for me. I had never seen so many big
toys — I mean pieces of equipment — in one place before.
Are you looking forward to any events
in particular this year?
Being president, I have many things I am
looking forward to. However, the opening session and gavel passing will be my
favorite. I am looking forward to another great trade show and hope to be able
to assist in making this a great experience for attendees.
What do operators get out of attending
The first benefit of WEFTEC for operators is
the opportunity to learn and be exposed to the latest technologies in operation
in the industry. The large population of experts in one place who are ready and
able to assist with any process or maintenance problems is a very great
benefit. Also, learning what others are doing to solve similar problems is
always helpful. The new initiatives being introduced, including the operator
innovations, are really helpful at this time.
What’s the hidden gem for operators at
It is becoming a cliché, but the
relationships that are built are the real gems — it’s not obvious but is a real
benefit of attending WEFTEC. I have formed friendships and shared solutions to
plant problems with people from all over North America and other places in the
world. I received a call from an operator in Australia a few years ago who
heard from a person I had met at WEFTEC that had developed a process to do a
polymer trial on a plate-and-frame press. I sent him the information
electronically, and he used it to do his trials. This demonstrates what is
— Jennifer Fulcher,
welcomes a new variety of water professional
many years, WEFTEC® has included a focus on wet weather. Sessions,
workshops, and exhibits have provided analysis and solutions for handling
rainfall-swollen volumes, inflow and infiltration, surcharged sewers, and other
wet weather issues. But this year, the Water Environment Federation (WEF;
Alexandria, Va.) is taking this focus one step further and co-locating the
Stormwater Congress with WEFTEC 2013.
The Stormwater Congress will include
professionals from the public and private sector who work with the effects of
stormwater runoff on the landscape, as well as on drainage, treatment, and
water supply infrastructure, according to Seth Brown, stormwater program and
policy manager at WEF. “This includes consultants, stormwater managers,
regulators, wet weather professionals, stream restoration specialists,
environmental scientists, watershed managers, stormwater-related NGOs
[nongovernmental organizations], and producers of proprietary devices in the
stormwater/wet weather sector,” Brown said.
Why split out
The focus of this event will be on how
stormwater and wastewater, while separate topics, have begun to follow parallel
and overlapping paths. Keynote speaker, Andrew Reese, vice president of AMEC
(London) will speak about how stormwater and wastewater management differ at
their core, especially as these fields address topics associated with financial
and asset management issues. He will highlight that stormwater is well on
its way on moving to a more business-like framework that already has been
embraced by the wastewater sector for many decades.
However, Brown added, this message does not
mean that no ties exist between these two sectors, nor that there can be no
learning between them. Changes in the sector, such as integrated planning,
reflect the growing connection between stormwater and wastewater on the
regulatory as well as programmatic fronts. In fact, the recently released WEF
Manual of Practice 23, Design of Urban Runoff Controls, sets forth a
view of stormwater treatment in terms of unit operations and unit processes
taken directly from the wastewater treatment sector.
Also, with wastewater as the more mature
brother to stormwater, many lessons can be learned and provided to the
stormwater sector regarding such issues as funding/financing, utility
management, regulatory compliance, permitting, and technical processes, Brown
According to William Ruckelshaus, the first
administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 85% of water quality
impairments in 1970 were attributed to point source pollution, such as
industrial and wastewater discharge, with the remaining resulting from nonpoint
discharges, including agricultural and urban stormwater runoff. By 2010, he
also pointed out, these figures had reversed: 85% of water quality impairments
now come from nonpoint discharges.
Stormwater and urbanization, unlike other
challenges in the water sector, cannot be solved wholly by a new membrane
treatment method, digester, or other in-line engineered technologies. This
challenge requires a combination of technical, natural, regulatory, and
In 2012, WEF brought together stormwater
practitioners at the inaugural Stormwater Symposium in Baltimore. At this
meeting, more than 400 people met to hear high-quality technical content and
discuss the issues of the day.
Now, the Stormwater Congress at WEFTEC 2013
will expand the breadth and depth of information to be shared and bring
stormwater practitioners together with the rest of the water sector.
On the docket for the Stormwater Congress are
sessions with more than 100 presentations,
hands-on workshop with four expert facilitators,
tour of Chicago stormwater facilities and best management practices, and
keynote luncheon featuring Reese’s remarks.
The sessions will be organized in four
concurrent tracks of technical and policy presentations focused specifically on
stormwater and related topics. This programming will be located in an area
separate from other WEFTEC sessions but still close enough to enable attendees
to visit WEFTEC presentations easily.
Co-locating the congress with WEFTEC offers
participants access to the hundreds of WEFTEC presentations, Brown said. Of
particular interest is that seven WEFTEC technical sessions will be focused on
In addition to the technical sessions, the
Stormwater Congress also includes an exhibition — the Stormwater Pavilion. The
Stormwater Pavilion, initiated at WEFTEC 2012 as the first topic-specific
exhibits pavilion within the greater WEFTEC exhibit, continues to be the focal
point for stormwater exhibitors. In 2013, the pavilion also includes a theater that
will extend the education opportunities onto the exhibition floor.
Some of the events planned for the theater
include a screening of a new documentary on green infrastructure, an award
ceremony for a national stormwater design competition, a launch point for a
mobile session focusing on stormwater and wet weather products, and
opportunities for pavilion exhibitors to showcase products in brief
— Steve Spicer,