From the President: Setting and Surpassing Goals in the New Year

February 8, 2017


Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) members have built an extremely successful organization with a bold, aspirational strategic plan that sets clear and attainable goals. WEF is the product of almost 90 years of work by water champions. This includes countless contributions from dedicated volunteers belonging to 75 Member Associations as well as from WEF staff. It truly is an honor and a privilege to represent these members from around the globe.

Outlook for a new year

The 2016–2017 WEF Board of Trustees is an absolutely fantastic team. We may come from varied water disciplines and possess broad ranges of experiences, but we have a common desire to see WEF staff and volunteers provided with the requisite resources needed to excel.

Our incredible volunteers, WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill, and more than 100 professional WEF staff are developing exceptional programs and networking opportunities for us to enjoy in 2017. Again this year, WEF members can participate in numerous online learning opportunities at no cost. I hope all members find an opportunity to share with their colleagues and participate in the many webcasts offered.

I also encourage members to see the new WEF website at The redesigned site is easy to navigate and makes WEF’s rich technical publications as well as other pertinent water sector information readily accessible. I know I represent the entire organization as I thank the talented team that delivered this vital resource.

Improving the value of membership

In recent years, increasing the value of WEF membership has been a key topic discussed at the board’s table. The board wants to take time to explore ways WEF can be even more effective in the water sector. This year, WEF will continue investing in such core technical areas as

  • water resource recovery,
  • biosolids,
  • water reuse,
  • watershed management,
  • stormwater,
  • utility management,
  • government affairs, and
  • numerous other programs and initiatives.

WEF also is growing in several new strategic areas. The new year will bring further development to the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program, Stormwater Institute, and Operator Initiative. I appreciate your continued support for WEF’s efforts.

Fostering collaboration and engaging researchers

WEF’s strategic plan sets ambitious and aspirational goals. While all of the critical objectives can be achieved, the board recognizes that the organization could achieve more effective results, sooner, through strategic partnerships. WEF commits to working with partner organizations to create additional pathways to global water solutions.

Last fall, 45 water sector leaders representing water associations, technology providers, and utilities met at San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for a 2-day Partnering for Impact event. We worked to build more effective collaborations, shared ideas, and started developing strategies for the future.

During 2017, WEF will work on another key initiative to accelerate the movement of utilities engaging directly with researchers, research testbed facilities, and universities. Recently, members of the WEF board and staff toured the Stanford (Calif.) University Codiga Resource Recovery Center and the Santa Carla Valley Water District’s (San Jose, Calif.) Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center. The tours were extremely informative and influential, providing direct onsite engagement with researchers and students working on the frontlines of innovation.

WEF also will work tirelessly to promote and support the great work of the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF; Alexandria, Va.). Last year, WEF and WEF Member Associations provided $72,000 in donations to support WE&RF research, and this year we are working to make another donation surpassing that amount.

Expanding the reach of WEFTEC

One of the board’s most important decisions in 2016 was to move WEFTEC to a four-city rotation by 2026, adding such locations as San Diego and Washington, D.C. to the current Chicago and New Orleans rotation. In addition to exhaustive analysis and evaluation, the board was influenced by the voice of our members. While adding new cities to the rotation will take several years to implement, it will be very exciting to see when it comes together. But regardless of the year or location, WEFTEC will remain the premiere global water event to exhibit, participate, and attend.

Working across the globe

In 2017, I hope that we take time to remember that many people do not have reliable access to clean and safe water, which are basic human needs that must be provided to allow people to fulfill their dreams and create pathways to opportunity.

Many of our international colleagues are embracing United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, and WEF is working to expand its influence into developing areas. WEF volunteers and staff have begun exploring ways to create meaningful opportunities for members to contribute toward social and humanitarian causes.

I look forward to celebrating each member’s positive influence on the water sector in 2017.  I encourage you to post your achievements at #MyWaterLegacy, and follow @WEForg and @Rickwarner13.  Thank you for your passion and commitment to water.

Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

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