Ninth Ward flooding. Photo by Kathy Anderson, LOLA

WEF Starts Conference with New Orleans Community Service Project

The Students and Young Professionals Committee of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is managing the construction of a bioswale in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, kicking off activities for WEFTEC10, which is scheduled for Oct. 2-6.

Representatives from WEF and local dignitaries, including Charles E. Allen III, director of New Orleans' Mayor Landrieu’s Office of Environmental Affairs, are expected to share their vision for environmental protection and community service during the opening ceremony and groundbreaking. Coordinators of the project are Global Green and Groundwork New Orleans.

The Lower Ninth Ward was one of the most heavily damaged areas from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The construction of a bioswale will help limit overland flooding by retaining stormwater runoff while removing silt and pollution.

Event organizers also will host a water carnival from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday. Community organizations, state agencies, university groups, and WEF entities will provide hands-on activities and information to the community regarding sustainable neighborhoods, water quality, wastewater treatment.

The bioswale will be built on the corner of Andry Street and N. Peters Street in the Holy Cross neighborhood.

In 2005 when the city’s levees broke under pressure from Hurricane Katrina-generated storm surges, the entire Lower Ninth Ward experienced catastrophic flooding and widespread devastation. The bioswales project supports grassroots solutions on a local level and promotes WEF’s overall mission to preserve and enhance the global water environment.

Project and in-kind sponsors include: Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, Archer Western Alberici, Baker Transportation & Logistics, Bayou Rebirth, Black & Veatch, Bottom Line Equipment, Brentwood Industries, Brown and Caldwell, CDM, Chesapeake Water Environment Association, City of New Orleans Police Department, Cleveland Tubing Inc., Delta Mining, LLC, Duperon Corporation, Eimco, Fluid Control Specialties, Inc., Future Proof, Greater Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, HACH, HDR Engineering, Hike for KaTREEna, Jenkins Farm and Nursery, LaFarge Aggregate, Lower 9th Ward Village Community Center, LSU AgCenter Extension Response and Recover Task Force, Make it Right Foundation, Municipal Water District of Orange County, New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association, Stantec, Storm Hunter Hauling, Veolia Water, Westfall Manufacturing, WESTON Solutions, and World Water Works Inc.

The 83rd annual technical exhibition and conference, which will be held at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, features 112 technical sessions, 33 workshops, and several events, including:

  • A keynote presentation from Steven Solomon, an esteemed economics journalist and author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization. Solomon will share his insights about the historical impact of water on societies, and the growing issues over scarcity and pollution that could lead to a global crisis without more sustainable approaches to water management.
  • U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe will update attendees on the agency’s current policies, priorities and programs—with a special emphasis on water issues.
  • High profile speakers including Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch, Applied Science Associates' Deborah French McCay, and Ocean Springs, Miss., Mayor Connie Moran to discuss "Deepwater Horizon: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response and its Effects on the Water Environment."

In addition, more than 200 wastewater treatment professionals will be competing for the 2010 title in Operations Challenge, a skills competition for operations and maintenance professionals.

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