The muddy Mississippi may well give convention-goers inspiration this year, as the Water Environment Federation (WEF) holds the WEFTEC '99 convention in New Orleans, Oct. 9-13. The wastewater treatment and water quality conference will hold more than two dozen workshops, 80 technical sessions and 500 presentations for interested attendees.
Highlights of the conference will include sessions and events for every level of knowledge. A first-timers' orientation will be held on Sunday, Oct. 10 to demonstrate how to effectively visit show exhibits. A new member/first timer reception later that day, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the New Orleans Marriott, will give participants the opportunity to get more involved with WEF, and meet their colleagues.
The 5th Annual WEFTeach, Monday, Oct. 11, a free workshop for educators, will allow more than 100 New Orleans science teachers to learn about clean water and pollution prevention. Students will also want to visit the WEF student career fair (1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday). Students will receive job hunting and resume tips, as well as the opportunity to meet with representatives from some of the top U.S. environmental firms.
In addition, the 72nd annual meeting will feature the first WEFTEC Leadership Day (Oct. 12). Workshops during this free leadership and networking opportunity will focus on the needs of a Membership Association (MA) leader, and will be conducted by MA and WEF leaders. WEF staff and counsel will also moderate. Attendees will learn how to manage committee activities; carry out effective legislative programs; and use technology to manage association activities. Workshops will also focus on U.S. antitrust regulations and WEF services.
Challenges in the water environment field will be addressed by many experts. Highlighted discussions include WEFTEC '99's opening general session (Oct. 11, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.), featuring John Briscoe, senior water advisor for The World Bank. Briscoe oversees the bank's portfolio of programs in water resources, irrigation, hydropower, water environment and water sanitation. He was also a senior economist in U.S. Bank's Brazil Department and chief of the Water Supply and Sanitation Division.
Former U.S. Senator and 1988 presidential candidate Paul Simon will present his views on potable water shortages as a source of future international conflict at the WEFTEC luncheon (Wednesday, Oct. 13, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.).
A wide range of topics will be covered at this year's conference. They include utility management; groundwater remediation; watershed management; water reuse; and biological monitoring. More than 800 exhibitors are also expected to attend. A complete listing of both technical sessions and exhibitors is available on the WEF Web site, at www.wef.org/.
There are several opportunities for attendees to tour local facilities. On Monday, Oct. 11, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., there will be a tour of the Baton Rouge hydraulic overload facility. This fully automated underground storage facility receives overflow from storm surge in the Baton Rouge area. A second tour will take place at the Diamond Head wastewater treatment plant, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This is a secondary treatment facility that uses twin oxidation ditches for nitrogen removal and UV disinfection.
On Tuesday, Oct. 12, there will be four tours available. The BASF Geismer Plant uses a large-scale ozone treatment system at its industrial complex. A collection system tour of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans sewer pumping station "A" and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and drainage pumping station 6 will take place at the same time (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.). From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., a tour will be conducted at the Air Products facility in St. Gabriel, La. This alkylamine manufacturer treats up to 1,600 pounds per day of total organic carbon and 400 pounds per day of total Kjeldahl nitrogen, and uses dissolved air flotation. A simultaneous tour of the Marathon-Ashland Petroleum refinery will demonstrate sludge processing with a thermal dryer.
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Inc. and the DuPont Dow Elastomers, L.L.C. Ponchartrain Site will show how they produce hydrochloric acid from chlorinated organic waste streams for on-site use. That afternoon, (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) the Plaquemines Parish Belle Chasse wastewater treatment plant will present its on-site trial to evaluate chlorine dioxide use.
WEF operators and technicians will also get the chance to demonstrate their skills at the Operations Challenge '99 (Tuesday Oct. 12, 9:15 a.m.). This annual competition is a 40-team, two-division contest. Participants are judged with a weighted point system during five events: collection systems, laboratory, process control, maintenance and safety. A trophy will be presented to the team with the best precision, speed and safety at an awards ceremony, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the New Orleans Marriott.
Although this is the third WEFTEC to be held in New Orleans, even attendees familiar with the city should take the opportunity to stroll outside the convention hall. Tours of the city will be available through WEF, including explorations of the swamps, a riverboat cruise and afternoon tea in the Garden District. This beautiful city's combination of Cajun hospitality and old-world mystique assures visitors will always find something new to see.
For more information, please call WEF at (800) 666-0206. You may also register for the conference on-line at http://expocard.com/wef995.
This article originally appeared in the 10/01/1999 issue of Environmental Protection.
Mel Zimmerman, PhD, is chair of the Biology Department at Lycoming College Williamsport, Penn., as well as the director of the Clean Water Institute (www.lycoming.edu/biology/cwi/index.htm). His research and publications deal with wastewater parasites and wetlands and stream restoration.