From the President: Spreading the Value-of-Water Message

October 17, 2017

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Jenny Hartfelder, WEF President 2017–2018

Jenny Hartfelder, WEF President 2017–2018

It is an honor to serve the members of the Water Environment Federation (WEF, Alexandria, Va.) as the 2017-2018 president. This column reaches you after we all return home from an extremely busy week at WEFTEC 2017.

WEFTEC, a program helping WEF achieve its mission

As a member of the WEF Board of Trustees, I often have heard people refer to the organization as WEFTEC. When I have the opportunity, I explain that we are all members of WEF and that the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) is just one of the many programs that helps WEF achieve its mission.

WEF’s mission consists of four critical objectives:

  • to connect water professionals,
  • to enrich the expertise of water professionals,
  • to provide a platform for water sector innovation, and
  • to increase the awareness of the impact and value of water.

WEF works toward achieving its mission by bringing water professionals from all around the world to WEFTEC, the world’s largest water-quality-focused technical conference and exhibition. The event provides attendees with a forum to connect and exchange ideas. I hope those of you who attended were able to make new connections and learn about innovative technologies that our manufacturers and researchers are developing and our utilities are implementing.

Increasing awareness of the value of water

For those unable to join us at WEFTEC or unable to attend the awards ceremony, I want to take this opportunity to share my hopes for WEF for this coming year. This past year, WEF has made great progress toward achieving its mission. I will bring my own passion to help WEF continue this journey. In the next year, I want to focus our efforts on increasing awareness of the value of water.

The theme of the WEFTEC 2017 Opening General Session, “Investing in the Future of Water,” aligned perfectly with this emphasis for the upcoming year. Building on the #MyWaterLegacy campaign, the session focused on the importance of mentorship with ties to workforce development, leadership, and innovation.

None of us would be here without the help of our mentors. Now, we need to become mentors. We need to continue engaging children, students, and young professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. We need to showcase the exciting job opportunities in the water sector and increase awareness of such careers in our profession as operators, scientists, laboratory analysts, regulators, manufacturers, vendors, academics, and engineers. We need to help the next generation with their careers and bring their energy and enthusiasm into our sector and into WEF.

The public needs to learn about what we do every day and how important it is for their health and the environment. WEF’s members need to receive the tools necessary to advocate to elected officials at the local, state (or province), and national levels. We also need to better communicate the importance of investing in water to others in our communities.

Working with partners to amplify efforts

Water professionals must continue to be educated to elevate the profession. Recently, WEF started an operator-focused initiative to bring updated training materials to those working in the field. Through this initiative, WEF is working on creating a national certification program. The organization will continue to connect water professionals and strengthen partnerships with other water sector organizations such as the Association of Boards of Certification (Ankeny, Iowa), American Water Works Association (Denver), and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (Washington, D.C.). With these partners, we will work together on common goals to achieve success faster and more efficiently.

I am very excited to have this opportunity to continue to work with all of you to positively affect the water sector. I ask each of you to get involved in WEF. Encourage and support young professionals to get involved in WEF and other water-related organizations. WEF and our Members Associations rely on volunteers to achieve their missions. We must continue investing in the future of water by mentoring and encouraging the next generation of water advocates.

I look forward to working with all of you in this coming year, and hope you will be able to join us in New Orleans for WEFTEC 2018, Sept. 30 through Oct. 3.

Jenny Hartfelder, WEF President 2017–2018

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