September 2013, Vol. 25, No.9

WEFTEC Preview

Chicago to host WEFTEC 2013

‘Not your grandfather’s WEFTEC’ blends innovative, tried-and-true

 WEFTEC® — which will be held Oct. 5–9 in Chicago — is known for being the largest North American event of its kind. It draws more than 17,000 attendees each year. This year’s technical program will be one of the most comprehensive ever, offering 26 hands-on workshops, more than 140 sessions, and 10 facility tours. The exhibition will feature an estimated 1000 companies occupying more than 27,870 m2 (300,000 ft2) of space on the show floor. This year’s WEFTEC also features a number of new and enhanced events.  

One of the most notable additions is the new Stormwater Congress, which offers topic-specific programming running in tandem with WEFTEC technical sessions, as well as the Stormwater Pavilion on the exhibit floor. While the majority of Congress programming will be held at the attached Hyatt Regency McCormick to foster networking opportunities within this growing part of the water sector, the intent is to provide an enriched learning experience for attendees, no matter which event they register for officially. WEFTEC registrants are encouraged to attend Stormwater Congress sessions and exhibits, and vice versa.  

The Innovation Pavilion, which debuted last year, will showcase finalists and winners of the WEF Operator Ingenuity Contest, the Imagine H2O Water Innovation Prize, and the 2013 BlueTech Forum Showcase; as well as programs and discussions in the Pavilion theater. 

Innovation and creativity will be prominent at WEFTEC, from the Opening General Session keynote address (see story, p. 36) to the variety of learning formats (see story, p. 28). 

The WEFTEC 2013 preview begins on p. 28. For more details or to register, see

— The Editors  


Stepping out from behind the podium   


This year’s WEFTEC® offers numerous opportunities for attendees to share information, ideas, and innovation in less formal, more discussion-driven ways. 

From more mobile technical sessions on the exhibit floor to focused forums on such topics as collection systems and municipal wastewater design, WEFTEC 2013 presents several opportunities to break down the wall between audience and presenter to encourage the flow of information and exchange of ideas in less structured environments. 

“It’s not your grandfather’s WEFTEC,” said Susan Merther, Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) director of technical programs. “There will still be 30-minute presentations, but the biggest difference this year is a lot more panel discussions that are discussion-focused.” 


Panels address the new and innovative  

One discussion panel grew out of the previous WEFTEC in 2012. Merther said one attendee was intrigued by a session on using algae for nutrient removal and wanted to hold a workshop for his utility. This turned into a series of panel discussions this year on Tuesday, Oct. 8.  

“This was a different way of looking at how a session is put together,” Merther said.  

Merther said she and other WEF staff wanted to develop this “forum type of concept … that is meant to be where people can discuss a topic, what’s going on. So, we can foster innovation, not just a presentation where people ask a question or two.” 


Meetings open up  

Christine Radke, WEF program manager, shares the goal of encouraging innovation. Radke says two technical committees are holding meetings at WEFTEC that will be structured differently to open up discussion.  

“[This year] they are not using meetings for just committee business,” Radke said. “Members will be able to talk about what they want to talk about.”  

For example, Radke said, on the agenda of the Municipal Wastewater Design Committee meeting are biofilm technologies, modeling from a design and operations perspective, waste characterization, and a “potpourri” topic that attendees can determine.  

Similarly, the Collection Systems Committee meeting on Sunday will conduct committee business for the first half of the meeting and switch to a technical forum in the second half. Last year, the group talked about infiltration/inflow strategies and the latest rehab techniques and invited a member of the Water Environment Research Foundation (Alexandria, Va.) to discuss relevant research. 

Although these meetings are intended for committee members, they are open to everyone, Radke said. “We encourage noncommittee members to attend,” she said. “Committee meetings in general are a great way to network — especially for those who feel WEFTEC may be too big to connect with others who share similar jobs — in a more contained environment.” 

Radke said the meeting technical forums are one step in “a new way of doing committee business” that helps committee volunteers gain more from their efforts.  

“A survey of WEF members asked why they volunteer, and most said that networking is [the] primary reason,” Radke said. “We try to make sure members have time to share experiences, get to know other people, and network.” 


Ideas abound in Innovation Pavilion  

WEFTEC 2013 also offers presentations in two pavilions, housed on the exhibit floor. “These are different from the technical sessions,” Merther said. “They are shorter, briefer, and offer a different way of looking at things.“ 

The Innovation Pavilion will feature companies that won this year’s WEF innovation awards and awards from WEF partners Blue Tech Research (Vancouver, B.C.) and Imagine H2O (San Francisco).  

One highlight of the Innovation Pavilion will be presentations by the winners of the Operator Ingenuity Contest, currently in its second year. 

“We know that innovation is not just big research,” Radke said. “Operators often find a way to solve problems every day, and we see that’s innovation as well.” 

Merther said contest participation was “phenomenal” this year, with about 70 entries, which were whittled down to 18 finalists by the WEF Operations and Maintenance Committee. The 10 winning entries, one for each category, will be featured at the Innovation Pavilion.  

Winning entries from last year included an extension to a ladder that enabled operators to enter a manhole safely without the need to renovate the entrance. Another was an electronic fish finder that was modified to view sewer blockages in areas where other equipment couldn’t enter.  

“These are the fun things at WEFTEC,” Radke said. “They’re not necessarily what you would see in a technical session.”  


On the move at mobile sessions 

In Chicago, attendees can also choose from numerous mobile sessions on such topics as large-diameter pipe rehabilitation, and thickening and dewatering technologies and strategies.   

“We recognized that a lot of exhibitors bring their best technical experts to WEFTEC,” Merther said, “but trying to get them to leave their booths was difficult to make presentations. So, instead of pulling these experts out of the exhibit, we have people going to them,” she explained.  

After an overview presentation, the session takes attendees from booth to booth. The popular mobile sessions started 2 years ago in Los Angeles at WEFTEC 2011, then expanded to four last year. This year, 12 mobile sessions are being offered.  

Special exhibitor sessions, similar to technical sessions, also are returning this year, Merther said. These two sessions focus on a specific topic, such as stormwater or dewatering, with exhibitors speaking about their products and techniques.  

In addition, some poster sessions will be more interactive. Poster presenters had an option this year of providing information in a medium other than a two-dimensional poster, Merther said. “Doing a dynamic poster is a new way to learn, and there will be a couple of kiosks where people can learn from them,” she said. In all, there will be 20 digital posters at WEFTEC this year. 


— Cathy Chang, WE&T  


Sharing ideas and know-how  

WEFTEC 2013 will feature three select speakers from the wastewater treatment field 


In addition to innovative programming during technical sessions and showcasing new technology on the exhibit floor, WEFTEC® 2013 in Chicago also will feature speakers who are the leaders in their field from utilities and academia.  

Session 201, a lecture sponsored by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP; West Chapel, Fla.), will feature John Novak, emeritus professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Va.). Novak has conducted research in bioremediation, water and wastewater treatment, solids treatment, and solid waste management. He received the Simon Freeze Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (Reston, Va.), the Frederick G. Pohland Award from AEESP, and the Ralph Fuhrman Medal from the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.). 

AEESP also is offering with WEF the Scientists’ Luncheon, a ticketed event that will feature Krishna Pagilla, a professor of environmental engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago), who is considered an expert in the fields of water quality, water/wastewater treatment, and water reuse. According to the institute’s website, Pagilla’s current research is in “developing sustainable technologies for nitrogen and phosphorus control/recovery, bacterial hemoglobin technology for wastewater treatment and biofuel production, reactive filtration to prevent lake water pollution, and advancing anaerobic sludge digestion for energy production.” He also teaches courses in physicochemical and biochemical processes for water and wastewater treatment, design of water resource recovery facilities, environmental modeling, and the chemical and biological aspects of environmental engineering. During the AEESP/WEF luncheon, he will discuss low dissolved-oxygen nitrification by bacterial “sherpas.”  

Kevin Fitzpatrick, supervising engineer at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, will be sharing his industry know-how at the Collection Systems Luncheon, another ticketed event. In addition to spending 3 years as an engineering consultant, designing drinking water and wastewater facilities, Fitzpatrick spent 2 years at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in the maintenance and operations department before serving in the engineering department. He later moved on to his current position, in which he oversees engineering for all the district’s collection facilities projects and intercepting sewer rehabilitation work.  


— LaShell Stratton–Childers, WE&T  


Building a new team with a vision of education, experience, and networking  

Nevada Operations Challenge competitors experience camaraderie that crosses local and regional boundaries 

Budget constraints lead to travel restrictions, and water resource recovery facilities have to do more work with fewer resources. In Nevada, this meant that forming teams to send to Operations Challenge competitions fell off the agenda.  

But this year, Nevada Water Environment Association (NWEA; Reno) leaders and local operators adopted a mission to form and send teams to a regional competition. The Water Environment Association of Utah (WEAU; Salt Lake City) hosts an Operations Challenge competition at its annual conference. Because NWEA planned to host a joint conference with WEAU in Utah this year, it provided the perfect opportunity for Nevada to return to the competition after a 10-year hiatus. 


Excitement about the competition spreads   

When Greg Turner, professional wastewater operator representative for NWEA, learned about the joint conference, he and other NWEA leaders started to talk to Nevada facilities about forming teams. NWEA was able to gain support from the North Las Vegas, Las Vegas, City of Henderson, and Clark County, Nev., facilities to form two teams, Endangered Feces and Fecal Matters. 

To enable teams to share equipment and practice in the same location, each team included an equal mix of operators from each facility, Turner said. “We wanted to try to further the cooperation we have among all the plants down here in southern Nevada and increase our networking,” he said. Each facility is talking about forming its own team next year, but the two teams plan to continue to share equipment and hold practices in each facility, he added. 

Nevada’s return to the competition has ignited excitement not only for the event but also for the career and industry that has spread throughout all the facilities. “It was just a great experience for everybody that was involved with it,” Turner said. “Our people are still excited about it, and they look forward to keeping this thing going. They’re engaged in the industry, and they’re excited about the job that they do, and that spreads to the people they work with.” 


Unique efforts of a new team  

Teams were formed about 10 weeks before the Utah competition and had to work to obtain and set up the practice equipment. A local fire department donated a c ardiopulmonary resuscitation dummy and automated external defibrillator trainer, and a local company donated pipes to help the teams practice, explained Brian Carlson, Endangered Feces team coach.  

With about 6 weeks left before the competition, the two teams that both included members who have never before competed in Operations Challenge began to practice. Clocking about 6 hours of practice each week, the team members had to quickly gain experience while getting to know each other. “When you have people that don’t know each other, and we’re trying to accomplish something, you kind of have to establish some sort of trust,” Carlson said.  

To build both trust and team camaraderie, Carlson assigned each Endangered Feces member as captain of an event. “I’ve given them the opportunity to be the master of their event,” Carlson said. “Now what we have are four people who’ve had not only a chance to participate but a chance to take ownership of each event. So if they want to start their own team, they have a unique level of experience on a particular event.” The team setup and delegation of leadership helped participants gain supervisory skills and united the competitors, added Perry Johnson, Endangered Feces team member.  

But because the team was unable to obtain maintenance equipment, the Utah conference was the first time the Nevada teams saw the event setup. Even with limited practice time and equipment, and the challenge of competing against 10 Utah teams, Endangered Feces placed ninth overall, edging out Fecal Matters to represent NWEA at WEFTEC® 2013.  

“We did better than expected,” Carlson said. And Fecal Matters did not leave the competition empty-handed, receiving the sportsmanship award, Turner said.  


Aspirations for WEFTEC  

Endangered Feces — Carlson, City of Henderson; Johnson and Linda Gallant, City of North Las Vegas; John Yoffee, City of Las Vegas; and Nate Seltenreich, Clark County Water Reclamation District — looks to compete in Division 2 at WEFTEC. The team focused on practicing the Maintenance Event while it had the equipment in July and August. The team also is working to gain muscle memory needed to compete under pressure, Johnson said. “It’s a matter of practicing to a point where it becomes second nature,” Johnson said. “It’s our objective to improve on what we did in Utah.” 

“Our team is dreaming of being the Cinderella story, the dark horse,” Carlson said. “Ultimately, they want to walk away feeling like they were able to do their best.” 


Seeing the bigger picture  

But in terms of gaining experience and knowledge, as well as networking, the Nevada participants already are winners. “You never know where you’re going to learn your next big thing,” Carlson said. And participation in the event has provided him with leadership experience and education, he added.  

Operations Challenge shows competitors the range of specialties in the industry and the options operators have to advance in the industry. It also helps them develop skills and recognize the reasons behind the processes in a facility, Johnson said. “It’s an opportunity to see that wastewater treatment is extremely diversified in the skill set you have to have,” he added.  

The mixed-facility team format enabled competitors to build a professional network and educate about the different types of wastewater treatment facilities. “It opens up opportunities to not only experience different plant types and how they run, but it gives you an opportunity to more or less pick brains of people who’ve been in the field for quite a while, who have come from diverse backgrounds, to be able to see how processes work differently at different locations,” Johnson said.  

At the Utah competition, Nevada team members were cheered on and supported by the other Utah teams, Carlson said. “One of the Utah teams was telling me they like going to see who the new teams are so they can jump in and help them,” Carlson said. “I wasn’t expecting that when I got into this, but to me, those guys that helped us out, they really get what this is all about. It’s teamwork and professionalism and networking.”  

“That’s what I’ve learned about this,” Carlson said. “You never know who’s going to help you out with something or where you’re going to be of help.” He is looking forward to meeting and networking with other new teams at WEFTEC.  


Jennifer Fulcher,WE&T 


Putting the bounce in WEFTEC  

Keynote speaker will share how imagination and innovation can help those in the water industry play ball 


The keynote speaker at WEFTEC® 2013 in Chicago is a man who says he believes in the power of the creative “spark” and igniting it in others. Though Kevin Carroll is now a motivational speaker and author of the books Rules of theRed Rubber Ball, What’s Your Red Rubber Ball?!, and The Red Rubber Ball at Work, he was once a language interpreter and translator for the U.S. Air Force, as well as the head athletic trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, and he was hired as a “katalyst,” or creative change agent, at NIKE Inc. (Beaverton, Ore). He’s shared his motivational know-how with such associations as the National Hockey League (New York), the National Basketball Association (New York), and companies such as the Walt Disney Co. (Los Angeles), Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati), The Discovery Channel (Silver Spring, Md.), and Capital One (Tysons Corner, Va.). 

WE&T spoke with Carroll to find out more about his “red rubber ball” concept and why play is so important, even in the adult world. 


Q: Your background includes serving in the Air Force, being an athletic trainer, and working at NIKE. How did you get into motivational speaking?  

A: At NIKE, I was asked to do a number of “high visibility” communication moments at sales, brand, design, sports industry, and board meetings. I was appearing at a global design event in Orlando [Fla.] in 2002 and was approached by an agent from a speaker’s bureau who enjoyed the remarks I shared. He asked if I had a video reel of my presentations that he could share with his colleagues at his agency. I sent him a DVD and received a very quick response with an appearance inquiry. It was truly an unexpected opportunity sprinkled with some serendipity. That turned into leaving NIKE in 2004 — after 7 years, writing three books with ESPN [Bristol, Conn.], Disney, and McGraw–Hill [New York], and invitations to share my message about the power of sport and play worldwide. 


Q: You say on your website that you helped “turn creative ideas into reality” for companies like Starbucks (Seattle), on which your “words appeared on 17 million Grande cups.” How did you go about accomplishing that feat?  

A: After a presentation to the Starbucks global marketing team in Seattle in the spring of 2006, a member of the marketing team asked if I would like to participate in their “quote-on-a-cup” campaign called “The Way I See It.” I had no idea that [quote would appear on 17 million cups] all over North America. 


Q: Why do you believe sports and play can be catalysts for changing lives?  

A: Sport and play are common human denominators and equalizers. No matter where you go in the world — regardless of socioeconomic, political, or religious system — we all play, plus we all speak “ball.” Stories abound about the use of sport and play as social innovation tools to help overcome challenges: HIV/AIDS, gender equity, social inclusion, homelessness, literacy, natural disaster, conflict, and many others. Sport and play are ever-present throughout our world, and there are human catalysts who utilize it to inspire change and action. 


Q: Please explain the “red rubber ball” concept.  

A: The red rubber ball is an activity that inspires us, brings us joy, and fuels our imagination to dream big. Discovering your red rubber ball sparks you to make a commitment to chase and pursue it for a lifetime. 

Take a moment and think back to your childhood and to the years dominated by playtime, exploration, curiosity, and investigating anything and everything. There were endless hours to fill, and the only agenda was to be captivated in the moment, to have fun and thoroughly enjoy the day. Ask yourself, “What brought me joy? What inspired me? What did I find irresistible and tickled my brain?” When you participated in moments and activities that answered those questions, you were enjoying your red rubber ball. You found ways — and continue to find ways — to be around that primal source of joy, a.k.a. your red rubber ball.  

Your red rubber ball inspires you to tap into a seemingly endless supply of energy, cleverness, resourcefulness, and creative agility to ensure that you are always attached to it. Your “work” is always your play. As James Michener said, “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play.” 


Q: How will you adapt your inspirational message for our WEFTEC audience?  

A: On the WEF [Water Environment Federation; Alexandria, Va.] website “Driving Innovation” plus “Enriching Expertise” are two of the three focal points that WEF promises to provide their members and industry. I will share tools, resources, and ideas — unique perspectives plus other industry resources plus “best-in-class” examples — to the WEFTEC attendees to amplify those two WEF focal points.  

Key ideas that I will share to support WEF’s Driving Innovation plus Enriching Expertise intention are the role, value, and power of storytelling and delivering inspiring narrative that rallies and moves others to take action; sharing unique plus unexpected ideation/innovation moments about the power of sport and play; global human catalysts plus a call to action; and citing and sharing tools and resources that can provide a spark to help WEFTEC attendees remain inspired, passionate, and intentional about the important work they do on a daily basis. 


LaShell Stratton‒Childers, WE&T  



One-stop shop for all things WEF  

WEF Plaza centralizes services and information 


The Water Environment Federation is the WEF in WEFTEC®. And this year, at the show WEF will unveil a new concept to better connect attendees with the latest WEF programming and resources. The WEF Plaza, located in the Grand Concourse Lobby, brings together the Bookstore, Membership, Global Center, Learning Lounge, Honors & Awards Display, and Mobile App & e-Learning Center in one central location. 

WEF Plaza will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5 through Wednesday, Oct. 9. 



Read it, wear it, study it, need it? Find it at the WEF Bookstore! In addition to offering books, WEFwear, and WATER’S WORTH IT® merchandise for sale, the Bookstore also will host a complimentary Starbucks coffee hour at 8:00 a.m., Oct. 7–9. Come in the Bookstore each day to “Spot the Croc,” and be entered into a daily drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with a WEF e-book of your choice. And leverage your water knowledge at the Bookstore Trivia competition, which will be held in the Learning Lounge at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7; grand prize is a $500 Bookstore gift certificate.  


Magazines, newsletters, and journals  

Pick up complimentary copies of recent WEF publications, including Water Environment & Technology, Water Environment Research, World Water, World Water: Stormwater, and Water Environment Regulation Watch. 


Public outreach  

Help build water quality awareness in your community. Find information on WEF’s public outreach programs, including World Water Monitoring Challenge, Stockholm Junior Water Prize, WATER’S WORTH IT®, and WEF’s line of brochures and bill stuffers. 

Inquire in the Bookstore or at Membership for more information on these programs. 


Global Center  

The Global Center at WEFTEC is full of resources committed to matching international trade delegates and exhibitors with an eye on the worldwide market. Make important contacts and gain additional knowledge by interacting with the leading manufacturers and representatives in the water and wastewater profession. 


Honors & Awards Display  

See the individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the water environment profession, WEF, and its Member Associations. Visit the Honors & Awards Display to view the 2013 award recipients. 


Learning Lounge  

Stop by the WEF Learning Lounge to listen to presentations and participate in hands-on demos of the latest technology and social media platforms being used at WEF. 



The Membership area in the WEF Plaza was created to provide world-class customer service. Stop by with questions about membership and/or joining WEF. 


Apps & e-learning center  

Are you familiar with all of the cool features and capabilities of the new WEFTEC Mobile app? Participate in hands-on demonstrations of the WEFTEC mobile app and WEF’s online learning portal.  Learn about what online education opportunities are available, and how to sign up.  


Online preplanning and onsite navigation in one!  

With your smartphone, tablet, or any other handheld Web-enabled device, you can explore all that WEFTEC® has to offer before the show and onsite in Chicago. 


Before WEFTEC  

Browse descriptions for sessions, workshops, and other events by topic, speaker, or day. 

Create a personalized schedule. Add a session or event to “My Schedule” with a single click. 

Preplan a list of all the exhibitors you wish to visit. 

Find Chicago hotel and travel information. 

Plan your schedule from your device or your desktop (requires free login). Visit  


Onsite in Chicago  

Stay organized and up-to-date with the latest exhibitor, session, and speaker information. 

Rate and comment upon sessions that you attend. 

Locate exhibitors using the interactive floor map. (It can even give you directions between locations!) 

Follow and interact with the #WEFTEC chatter via the built-in social media feeds.