Record-setting numbers of 19,929 attendees and 1,017 companies using 268,405 net sq ft of floor space have designated WEFTEC.07 — the Water Environment Federation’s 80th annual technical exhibition and conference — as the largest event in the conference’s 80-year history.

The previous exhibition records of 965 companies and 245,155 net sq ft of floor space were set at WEFTEC.06 in Dallas and the previous attendance record of 18,704 was set at WEFTEC.02 in Chicago, the host city for next year’s conference.

In addition to the exhibition, the conference, held Oct. 13-17, featured a high-quality technical program of 119 technical sessions, 25 workshops, eight facility tours and several special events. Of particular interest to attendees were workshops on biosolids and microbiology, as well as technical sessions on water reuse, membrane technology and green power for wastewater treatment plants.

Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for the U.S. EPA Office of Water, made a special appearance during one of Oct. 15’s technical sessions, “The Next 35 Years of the Clean Water Act.”
At Sunday’s Opening General Session, keynote presenter Dr. Perry L. McCarty, the 2007 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate and Silas H. Palmer Professor (Emeritus) of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, received a standing ovation from the audience of nearly 2,000 for his invaluable contributions to the water quality profession.

On Oct. 16, as part of the “Presidential Celebration,” WEF president Mohamed Dahab ceremoniously “passed the gavel” of Federation leadership to Adam Zabinski and inducted the remaining 2007-2008 WEF officers and board of trustees.

The ceremony culminated with awards presentations in recognition of the outstanding achievements of the most talented and dedicated professionals in the water quality community. In all, more than 25 awards were presented at various events during the four-day conference.

On the international front, WEF renewed its commitment to working in Latin America and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Inter-American Association of Sanitary Engineers and Environmental Sciences (AIDIS). This agreement bolsters WEF’s activities with AIDIS aimed at a more sustainable water environment in the Americas.

Other conference highlights included the first meeting of WEF’s Sustainability Community of Practice; the Utility Executive Forum; the Water is Life and Infrastructure Makes It Happen roundtable; WEFTeach; poster presentations; student activities; and the 20th annual Operations Challenge competition.
Recognized as the largest water quality event in North America and largest annual water quality exhibition in the world, WEFTEC continues to grow as plans for next year’s conference get under way. To date, more than 750 companies have already reserved 263,000 sq ft of floor space at McCormick Place in Chicago for WEFTEC.08, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 18-22.

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