From The Editor | September 9, 2015

Hot Water: Key Industry Themes In 2015


By Kevin Westerling,

Whether or not you regularly attend WEFTEC, you’re likely familiar. The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has been hosting the annual “Water Quality Event” for 88 years, and it’s the biggest conference for water and wastewater professionals in North America. So big, in fact, that it’s hard to get your head around: 22,000-plus attendees, more than 1,000 exhibitors, and countless technical sessions, workshops, speakers, and events. Attending or not, it’s important to know what goes on here.

Furthermore, if you are attending, you will likely need to plot and prioritize your activities. As a guide to the WEFTEC proceedings taking place from Sept. 26 to 30 at Chicago’s McCormick Place — or simply as industry update on hot topics — here are two helpful lists.

The first list compiles areas of interest that emerged when the WEFTEC Program Committee, a group of 247 experts, pared the technical program down to the “best of the best” — a mere 900 or so speakers from, amazingly, nearly twice as many considered.

Following that is a list from BlueTech Research ranking the ‘Top 10 WEFTEC Conference Paper Themes’. The company, which provides market research on water technology startups and innovators, has close ties to WEFTEC by partnering for the Innovation Showcase, now in its fourth year. BlueTech screened nearly 1,000 papers scheduled to be presented at WEFTEC, arriving at 10 noteworthy themes.

But first, it’s the “Sweet 16”, AKA…

WEFTEC Technical Education Focus Areas
(List and PDF links compliments of the Water Environment Federation)


Top 10 WEFTEC Conference Paper Themes
(Ranking via BlueTech Research)


  1. Advanced Primary Treatment: Carbon Diversion for Energy Recovery
  2. Food and Beverage Anaerobic Treatment
  3. Advanced Anaerobic Digestion
  4. Oil Refinery Wastewater Treatment
  5. Upstream Oil and Gas
  6. Mining Nutrients From Wastewater
  7. Direct and Indirect Potable Reuse
  8. Managing RO Concentrate of High Salinity Brines
  9. Industrial Applications for Forward Osmosis
  10. Mainstream Shortcut Nitrogen Removal

Furthering their effort, BlueTech curated a selection of 120 WEFTEC papers — covering the topics above, plus more — that are available here (registration required; select “Tools” followed by “Conference Digest” for access to the WEFTEC paper summary page).

More To See … And Hear

To explore everything that WEFTEC has to offer, browse the full conference program or download the mobile app.

Water Online will be in Booth 4041 on the exhibition days of Sept. 28 to 30. Visit us for a chance to win a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter Drone and to hear the live broadcast of Water Online Radio.