From the President: WEF Influencing the Future

October 13, 2016


Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

It is an honor to serve the members of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) as the 2016–2017 president of the WEF Board of Trustees.

The role can be a bit intimidating and the schedule quite busy, but one of the role’s great privileges is acknowledging the contributions and accomplishments of immediate past President Paul Bowen. As many of you know, he is a man of quotes. As I thank him for his dedication to WEF, I have the perfect quote to describe his professional style and positive influence. “Influence is more powerful than power,” according to leadership author Warren Bennis.

This quote also describes WEF members, who are creating and redefining excellence and innovation each day. As members, you are delivering essential services with professionalism and imagination. A sampling of your work includes

  • developing biofuel technologies,
  • creating advanced process modeling soft water,
  • converting phosphorus and nitrogen pollutants into valuable renewable resources,
  • creating work forces for the water utility of the future,
  • delivering capital projects more creatively and effectively,
  • managing utility services while meeting other critical social and educational needs of your communities, and
  • (my personal favorite) making drinking water from wastewater.

You are simply inspiring, and each of you embodies WEF. I envision the upcoming year as one where we influence change and celebrate our achievements.

WEF members have built this extremely successful organization with its bold and aspirational strategic plan with clear and attainable goals. WEF is the product of almost 90 years of water champions, countless contributions from members of 75 Member Associations, and dedicated professional staff led by WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. Working together, we achieve excellence every day.

Some key initiatives are on the horizon for the next year. I see us collaborating with our strategic partner organizations to create additional pathways to global water solutions. Later this fall, WEF will convene with more than a dozen water organizations and utilities in San Francisco to find ways to Partner for Impact; hopefully this gathering will help us find ways to achieve a greater influence together than when each organization works alone.

WEF will accelerate the movement utilities are taking toward engaging directly with research test-bed facilities and universities. Partnerships with researchers and students will strengthen in 2017. WEF will work tirelessly to promote and support the great work of the newly joined Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (Alexandria, Va.).

In 2017, WEF will take time to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of its members. I join the organization’s other leaders in being grateful that so many choose this fantastic organization as the place to share, network, learn, and grow with other water sector professionals.

In the next year, I hope that we take time to be reminded that many people of the world do not share the same health and abundance that we are blessed with. The United Nations reports that a quarter of the world’s population still does not have access to clean and safe water, and 80% of the world’s wastewater goes untreated. Reliable access to clean and safe water are basic human needs that must be provided to allow people to fulfill their dreams and create pathways to opportunity.

Often, it is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of this disparity, but we can make a profound difference, especially by sharing our technical expertise. Two WEF members, Daniel Nolasco and Diego Rosso, are setting an example by starting their own initiative, at their own expense, to share technical knowledge with colleagues in Central and South America. Their work is inspiring and making a lasting impact. In 2017, I hope WEF members find ways to be even more engaged with humanitarian causes.

As an organization, WEF is working to expand its influence into developing areas. I am proud that WEF supports Water for People (Denver). I also look forward to sharing WEF’s knowledge in these areas. WEF plans to accelerate language translations of its technical materials and increase distribution of these materials to emerging economies.

I look forward to celebrating each member’s positive influence on the water sector at WEFTEC 2017 in Chicago. I am proud to be your colleague; I am humbled to serve as your president. Thank you for your passion and commitment to water.

Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

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