L.A. Welcomes WEFTEC 2011

More than 16,900 water professionals and 923 exhibiting companies from around the world attended WEFTEC 2011 — the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 84th annual Technical Exhibition and Conference Oct. 16-19 in Los Angeles.

To that end, the conference offered attendees their choice of more than 900 presentations in 114 technical sessions, 37 workshops, eight local facility tours, as well as several high-profile events. Key sessions and workshops featured in-depth topics such as private sewer system management, innovative applications of recycled water, water infrastructure investment, recent developments in membrane bioreactor technology, and improved energy efficiency for wastewater treatment plants and processes.

Of particular interest was a high-powered Water Leaders Session that featured a panel of top leaders in the water community’s consulting, finance, and public service sectors. The group shared their perspectives on water in the coming decade, including some of the anticipated challenges and innovations in policy, governance, finance, infrastructure, public safety and health, technology, and R&D. Moderated by former U.S. EPA Administrator G. Tracy Mehan III (principal of the Cadmus Group), the panel included Gretchen McClain (president of ITT Fluid and Motion Control), Laurent Auguste (president and CEO of Veolia Water North Americas), Dan McCarthy (president and CEO of Black & Veatch Water), David Gray (managing director of Global Industrial Services for Credit Suisse) and WEF executive director Jeff Eger.

Another highlight was the Utility Executives Forum that examined the challenges faced by utilities during this time of economic uncertainty. Attendees heard about the outlook for the water sector as well as opportunities for innovation by using new approaches to financing, organization, and technology through firsthand accounts by venture capitalist David Henderson (managing director of XPV Capital Corp.), Richard Fox (chairman and CEO of Camp Dresser & McKee) and top executives representing three utilities from across the country, Tim Houghton (executive assistant for the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii), Bill Gaffi (general manager of Clean Water Services, Hillsboro, Ore.) and George Hawkins (general manager of DC Water, Washington, D.C.).

At Monday’s Opening General Session, attendees were greeted by a special video welcome from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that was followed by different, yet complementary presentations from keynote presenters Dr. Rita Colwell, a distinguished university professor and world-renowned expert on water-borne diseases, and Doc Henley, founder and president of the non-profit international aid organization, Wine To Water. The two keynote speakers both gave insightful and inspirational presentations about the vital connection between clean water and public health. The high-profile program also featured Jeff Eger and WEF president Jeanette Brown who presented the WEF 2011 Public Officials Award to L.A. City Council’s President Pro Tempore Jan Perry and recognized the 2011 U.S. and international Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner, Alison Bick as well as the 2011 U.S. finalists.

On Tuesday, Brown ceremoniously passed the WEF gavel of leadership to incoming president Matt Bond and inducted the 2010-2011 WEF officers and board of trustees. WEFTEC 2012 is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, in New Orleans.

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