WEFTEC 2013: Setting The Stage For Change
The Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) is back and bigger than ever, promoting a new age of innovation.
When Governor Pat Quinn (D-Illinois) stated that “water defines us” as part of the WEFTEC 2013 General Opening Session, he was specifically speaking about his state of Illinois, but it was a remark that must have resonated with every person in the room.
The 86th annual exhibition and conference kicked into high gear on Monday at McCormick Place in Chicago. Water Environment Federation (WEF) President Cordell Samuels, in addition to introducing Gov. Quinn, had many quotable moments of his own during the opening, which is generally a pep rally of sorts for exhibitors and attendees, but the importance of motivational words and calls to action should not be underestimated. In fact, inspiring water professionals to forge change was a theme for the welcoming event, which was anchored by a keynote address from Kevin Carroll about advancing sports and play as a vehicle for change.
Samuels’ focus, meanwhile, was on the vitally important work provided by the water industry, as well as the need to foster and realize innovative solutions.
“One could argue that we have the most important jobs in our communities,” Samuels said. “Every job in this profession is important. We are first responders, innovators, and protectors of public health and the environment.”
On innovation specifically, Samuels said, “I believe in doing things differently, that we can always improve. We should aspire to new heights of innovation.”
Quinn echoed those sentiments, expressing his desire make Illinois, with its stable of over 100 water companies, the next great “water cluster” for technology in the industry. As further evidence that “water defines us” with regard to Illinois, Quinn announced that October is “Water’s Worth It” month across the state, while also touting Illinois’ $1-billion Clean Water Initiative created in 2012.
Both Gov. Quinn and Samuels praised WEFTEC’s role in moving the water industry forward. Samuels made note of the size and scope of the event, with roughly 17,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors on hand. “If bigger is better, there’s nothing better than WEFTEC 2013,” he said, adding that the show offers “the highest quality of education and networking.” The opportunity for knowledge-sharing was also picked up by Gov. Quinn, who stressed the importance of exchanging information on an international basis.
Indeed, attendees and experts from around the world have flocked to the Windy City for this defining water conference. After the spirited speeches given in the Opening General Session, which put a heavy focus on innovation, the stage was set — and the challenge raised — for the audience to go forth and create a better future for water.