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WEFTEC 2016 : Initiatives, Competition and Beer



Ben Ornstein at WEFTEC 2016

WEFTEC®, the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, is the biggest meeting of its kind in North America and offers thousands of water quality professionals from around the world the best water quality education and training available today.

We had a chance to check out some of the innovations and initiatives happening at the show in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“Wastewater Olympics” Opps Challenge

How do operators and technicians overcome flooding, a sewer collapse, process failure and other emergencies? Do you ever wonder what transpires behind the scenes during the operation of a wastewater treatment facility?
Treatment operators are matched head to head in five timed events that test specific abilities needed for operations maintenance and control.

Each team is sponsored by a WEF Member Association or recognized Operator Association at the competitions held annually. Winners are determined by a weighted point system for five events (collection systems, laboratory, process control, maintenance and safety), each designed to test the diverse skills required for the operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities, their collection systems and laboratories.

Big congratulations to the 2016 winners, the Rocky Mountains team!

WEF, Department of Energy Sign Memorandum of Understanding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of the DOE Better Buildings Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator initiative. The initiative engages state, regional, and local agencies working with water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to accelerate innovative approaches to sustainable infrastructure of the future.

“WEF is committed to providing a platform for water sector innovation, focusing on approaches and technologies that benefit utilities on the path to sustainable energy management,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “To that end, we are excited to be collaborating with DOE to promote the benefits of the Accelerator initiative.”

Wastewater Infrastructure Accelerator Goals include:

  • Demonstrate best-practice/cutting-edge approaches and tools toward a sustainable wastewater infrastructure and yield road-tested examples for other facilities.
  • Document model plans for transitioning to a sustainable infrastructure that will help drive more solutions in the industry.
  • Develop assessment and decision tools for selecting best-practice approaches and tools on the pathway toward a sustainable infrastructure.
  • Develop recommendations for post-Accelerator next steps.

Specifically, the MOU partners will jointly promote the initiative, encouraging WRRF innovative approaches in accelerating improvements in energy efficiency, and facilitating and collaborating on technical peer exchange opportunities to share best practices and solutions.

Reusable Beer Smackdown

Probably the most popular event of the show was the resuable beer smackdown. The effluent beer competition exploded this year with multiple brewers and varieties versus the two at last years event. The brewers use treated effluent to make homebrew as a way to educate the public and policymakers about the feasibility of potable reuse.

Using materials from local pharmacies, hardware stores, and homebrew suppliers, brewers treat the wastewater until it meets drinking water standards – and then treat that water (as any homebrewer does) to “build the profile” for the type of beer they want to brew.

Because of regulatory constraints, the treated effluent beer cannot be sold, but can be supplied for personal use in homebrew. Homebrewers are also excellent advocates for water and wastewater, as they are very familiar with the treatment processes used by big treatment plants and replicated in their own homes.

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