CSWEA WEF Delegates’ Report


    by Eric Lynne & Derek Wold


    WEF Strategic Initiatives Update

    Since 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and it members have protected public health and the environment.  As a global water sector leader, WEF’s mission is to 1) connect water professionals, 2) Enrich the expertise of water professionals, 3) Increase the awareness of the impact and value of water, and 4) Provide a platform for water sector innovation.

    This year at WEFTEC, WEF announced several objectives for the coming year:

    • Partnership with National Green Infrastructure Certification Program
    • Relaunching the Water’s Worth It Campaign
    • Promotion of Utility of the Future and LIFT
    • Member Association Grant Program to support grassroots innovation and change
    • Development of a new AMS member database
    • Focus on sustainability in all activities, down to the hotel partnerships made for events
    • Continuation of the MA:WEF Reciprocal Membership program


    WEFTEC Recap

    A Delegates WEFTEC experience starts bright and early on Saturday morning with a 7 AM House of Delegates breakfast.  This year, the breakfast featured Table Talk with delegates from similar sized MAs from around the country to discuss the following topics:

      1. What are your MA’s greatest needs?
      2. What do you think your MA does really well?
      3. In a dream world, what will your MA accomplish in the next five years?


    This was a great opportunity to hear ideas from other MAs and share some of the things that CSWEA does really well.  Our utility pricing for the annual conference and GWS initiative were two areas that caught interest from other MAs.  The common themes were that the biggest needs are membership/engagement, operators, and diversity.  The areas that WEF does really well include training and conferences.  In addition to addressing our needs, the goals for the next five years include self-promotion, operator training, and partnerships.

    The Table Talk really set the tone for the remainder of the meetings on Saturday and should be our guide for initiatives for the next several years.  Saturday’s meetings included reports from outgoing speaker Aimee Killeen, incoming speaker Keith Hobson, and incoming president Tom Kunetz.

    While we were enjoying the comfort of the air-conditioned convention center, volunteers were tolling away in the New Orleans heat and humidity to build this year’s service project.  The delegates were able to take a bus over to the project location and interact with the volunteers, many of which were students and YPs.  This year’s project included constructing a bioswale at the Treme Community Center.  The Center suffers from poor drainage and flooding due to runoff from their slanted roof flowing into an existing planter box. The volunteers transformed the existing planter box into a bioswale which will capture, detain and treat the stormwater runoff from the slanted roof to alleviate flooding and improve water quality.  In addition, a green infrastructure graphic was created to educate the community on the importance of drainage. This project will not only leave a positive impact on the environment, but will also provide community education on water, the environment, and green infrastructure.


    HOD Update

    The House of Delegates update is quiet during the winter as the Delegates assemble new deliverables and action items for the coming year. In addition to the standing HOD committees that Eric and Derek serve on, there are also several HOD workgroups that tackle key action items throughout the year to better our organization. Key work products include:

    • Identification of priority topics for WEFMAX presentations. Derek, Eric, and Mohammed submitted a list of focus areas that we’ve deemed most critical to our Central States’ needs. Main focus areas include:
      • Operators, YPs, and Membership Growth


    • Operator Initiatives Workgroup – Derek is our representative on this workgroup, which will seek to assist the WEF Operator Advisory Panel (OAP). The mission of the OAP is promoting and supporting the professional operator through the development of promotional materials to support and encourage participation in WEF operator-oriented programs and services, including the Operator Ingenuity Contest.  The workgroup will also assist in the OAP’s current efforts to survey MA’s on operator workforce development, assist in the review of existing operator training materials (both WEF and MA developed) to provide a gap analysis for content.  The workgroup will also assist in other WEF operator initiatives as the need arises.  This includes but is not limited to the following:
      • Promoting the role of the professional operator in the community, WEF Operations Challenge, and WEF OWWLs
      • Promoting and endorsing ABC Professional Operator Designation
      • Passing along information for utility managers on how to support operators in the workplace
      • Inform MAs about available WEF and other operator training materials
      • Distributing operator-oriented articles for MA magazines
      • Defining long-term MA operator training strategy working with OAP
      • Investigate workforce development for future operators and living wage material to provide deliverables to MAs for distribution
    • Member Association Resources Workgroup. This workgroup is actively assembling a database of MA Resources with particular emphasis on Staffing, Technical Training/Events, Financial, and Awards. WEF Staff will host the compendium as a toolkit on the MA Resources Center of the website.
    • The Membership Relations Workgroup will focus on increasing WEF’s diversity towards all members. Specific focus will be to develop materials that tailor towards women and non-english speaking minorities. Our new WEF President Tom Kunetz (of MWRDGC) shared an eye-opening perspective story about connecting with other ethnicities and how we should apply that to the water industry.


    WEFMAX 2019

    All association leaders are encouraged to attend a WEFMAX to network, learn, and share experiences with other MAs. The locations for 2019 WEFMAXs have been identified as follows:

    • British Colombia (Vancouver) March 13-15
    • Arizona (Scottsdale) March 27-29
    • Alabama (Orange Beach/Floribama) May 15-17
    • Kentucky-Tennessee (Nashville) May 29-31

    And for those of you planning ahead, 2020 will feature a Hawaii WEFMAX.

    Please feel free to contact Derek or Eric about areas within WEF or CSWEA that are working well or not so well.



    Mission Statement

    To provide a Water Environment Federation (WEF) organization (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin) offering multiple opportunities for the exchange of water quality knowledge and experiences among its members and the public and to foster a greater awareness of water quality achievements and challenges.