WEF Blends Technical Sessions With the Exhibition Experience at WEFTEC

December 3, 2012

Featured, WEF Resources & Efforts

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) has developed a new way to learn at its annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®) that blends technical programming with the exhibition experience.

These new opportunities — mobile sessions — debuted at WEFTEC 2011. At WEFTEC 2012, WEF expanded the program by offering four mobile sessions.

“Fundamentals of Water and Wastewater” mobile session participants learn about technologies in the WEFTEC 2012 exhibition. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

“Fundamentals of Water and Wastewater” mobile session participants learn about technologies in the WEFTEC 2012 exhibition. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

One of the 2012 mobile sessions, “Fundamentals of Water and Wastewater,” was geared toward public officials and provided an introduction to wastewater treatment processes and some of the equipment involved.

“Public officials are frequently making decisions impacting both the environmental and financial health of their communities,” said wastewater treatment troubleshooter Russell Martin, who provided a “Wastewater 101” lesson before the tour. Attendees learned about various elements of wastewater treatment and now should be able to make more informed decisions, he said.

Martin used a video featuring a virtual tour of a water resource recovery facility (WRRF) as the visual centerpiece and focal starting point during his introduction. The video — developed by WEF and Gage3D Studios (Westfield Center, Ohio) — describes how WRRFs recycle water and reclaim wastes to create such valuable resources as clean water, nutrients, biosolids, and energy. This virtual tour takes viewers through primary, secondary, and advanced treatment, as well as the plant headworks and biosolids treatment processes.

“Often, water infrastructure is underground and in nonvisible areas,” said Matt Brownson, managing partner at Gage3D Studios. “People don’t even know it’s there until there is a problem. Our focus at Gage3D … is to bring to light those vital mechanical and biological processes.”

Visual communication efforts, such as video, can help the public and elected officials understand the need to support water infrastructure projects and water jobs, Brownson said.

 A group of “Fundamentals of Water and Wastewater” mobile session participants tour learn about technologies in the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

A group of “Fundamentals of Water and Wastewater” mobile session participants tour learn about technologies in the exhibition. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

The video and Martin’s commentary provided a primer for the vendors that public officials visited on the exhibit tour. The WEFTEC 2012 exhibit floor contained 27,570 m2 (296,725 ft2) of water and wastewater equipment and services. While walking the floor, the casual observer might see bubbling tanks with floating wagon-wheel pasta or something that looks like a giant cheese grater, but the tour helped public officials instead recognize nutrient removal media and influent screens.

The mobile session included visits to vendors to provide context for their products, as well as explain how their equipment fits into the treatment process and describe what it does. The tour also gave attendees a unique opportunity to start a dialogue with vendors and gain firsthand experience with the equipment.

“The public officials mobile session has a great deal of value to participants,” said Larry Crandall, leader of one tour group and director of the Orange County (Calif.) Sanitation District. “It was an outstanding opportunity for questions and answers — one-on-one, one-on-10. The interaction between the groups, myself, and the vendors provided an opportunity for a lot of good two-way conversation.”

“Even an ol’ publicly owned treatment works [POTW] engineer like me learned about some new equipment’s capabilities at several of the vendors,” Martin said.

Wastewater treatment troubleshooter Russell Martin educates mobile tour participants about treatment technologies. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Wastewater treatment troubleshooter Russell Martin educates mobile tour participants about treatment technologies. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography.

Martin used his experience working with POTWs to highlight areas of interest for public officials. He pointed out portions of the treatment process that have significant energy costs and discussed ways to reduce or possibly even eliminate those costs. He also explained that a qualified staff is necessary to maximize the investment that many public officials have and will continue to make on meeting their environmental goals. “I wish I had a bit more time to discuss infrastructure sustainability issues,” Martin said. “Buried infrastructure is the bulk of a public official’s investment, whether they know it or not.”

Stops on the tour were visits to ADS LLC (Huntsville, Ala.), Andritz Group (Graz, Austria), HelioPower (Murrieta, Calif.), Huber Technology Inc. (Huntersville, N.C.), Hydro International (Clevedon, England), Hydromantis (Hamilton, Ontario), JWC Environmental (Costa Mesa, Calif.), Pall Corp. (Port Washington, N.Y.), Schreiber LLC (Trussville, Ala.), TrojanUV (London Ontario), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 — Kristina Twigg, WEF Highlights

The Water Resource Recovery Facility 3D Virtual Tour video was a centerpiece of the WEFTEC 2012 “Fundamentals of Water and Wastewater” mobile tour.

 

 

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