Hurricanes, global water challenges, and rainwater harvesting were just a few of the interesting topics presented at the WEFTEC.05 opening general session on Monday, Oct. 31 at the Washington Convention Center. As the kick-off event of the Water Environment Federation?s (WEF) 78th annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, the session set the tone for the show.

The program began at 9:30 a.m. with the presentation of colors by Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop 343 from Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., followed by opening remarks by WEF President Lynn Orphan. Orphan introduced the first speaker, current Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Stephen Johnson, who shared the latest on recovery efforts and long-term water challenges facing the Gulf Coast region.

Following Johnson was William Reilly, former administrator of EPA (1989-1993) and founding partner of Aqua International Partners, a private equity fund that invests in water and renewable energy companies both in the U.S. and abroad. A long-term advocate of water issues, Reilly spoke about continuing global water challenges. And, offering a glimpse into water challenges facing one developing country was Sunita Narain, the 2005 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate and Director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi, India.

Known as a dynamic advocate for water, environment, human rights, democracy, and health, Narain has led CSE in its efforts to build a new paradigm of water management by advocating the traditional wisdom of rainwater harvesting and the role of communities in managing their local water systems. The program will conclude with remarks by incoming WEF President Michael Read who will share WEF?s vision for the future.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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