The Water Environment Federation has put innovation and reaching out to the global community at the center of its new strategic direction, says Cordell Samuels, the association's incoming president.


Samuels says that, over the past two years, the association's leaders have taken a hard look at the group's strategic plan and decided "to strengthen some of the things we have always done and to craft new initiatives going forward."

Association officials planned to outline the new strategic direction for WEF at the group's annual WEFTEC convention, set for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in New Orleans.

In an interview with ENR just prior to WEFTEC, Samuels said the organization is establishing a committee to push one new initiative: reducing energy usage at wastewater treatment plants.

WEF will also look for ways to drive innovation in the water sector. For the first time, the federation has dedicated 10,000 sq ft of WEFTEC exhibit space to products and services related to stormwater treatment. As more stringent environmental regulations are put in place in countries that are feeling the effects of a prolonged recession, innovation becomes even more important, Samuels says.

Moreover, WEF plans to reach out to less-developed countries to "transfer knowledge and information" through training. Samuels also hopes to get people from developing countries more involved in association work. "I believe that for WEF to grow as an organization … we need to look globally to less-developed centers," he says.

Samuels, who is also superintendent of the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Pickering, Ontario, notes that a key challenge that water professionals face is financing the infrastructure required to replace aging pipes and treatment plants.

Although public-private partnerships related to water and wastewater projects have been executed successfully in Europe, Samuels says, U.S. utilities still face too many hurdles at present.