Preparations for the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), occurring Oct. 16 – 20 in Chicago, are in full swing. As usual, this year’s technical program will offer a diverse slate of programming for stormwater professionals.

Featuring eight technical sessions and a host of additional presentations narrowly tailored to the educational priorities of stormwater professionals, attending WEFTEC 2021 will help changemakers adapt with the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of stormwater management.

“Stormwater experts around the world can benefit from opportunities to share information, compare approaches, and form stronger professional networks,” said Rebecca Arvin-Colon, Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Virginia) Stormwater Institute senior manager. “This year’s WEFTEC program provides an excellent forum that equips stormwater professionals with the knowledge and connections they need to better protect their communities.”

Monday, October 18

Three technical sessions on Monday, October 18, enable stormwater professionals to hit the ground running, focusing on public outreach, new technologies, and using stormwater as an alternative water source for industrial applications. Each of Monday’s three sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. Central, running between 60 and 90 minutes each.

This year’s WEFTEC technical program features eight sessions focused on all aspects of stormwater management, in addition to a hands-on workshop and numerous other opportunities to keep up with the trends, tactics, and technologies shaping the modern stormwater management sector. Click here for more information on WEFTEC 2021.

A session titled The People Side of Stormwater Management explores methods to engage the public on stormwater projects, outlining how public outreach for stormwater often contrasts with that of wastewater and drinking water because of its intrinsic “outside-the-fence” nature and green infrastructure’s need for community buy-in. Session moderators, led by Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD; Saint Paul, Minnesota) Administrator Mark Doneux and stormwater engineer Caroline Burger from the City of Madison, Wisconsin, will review various case studies in Michigan and Ohio, as well as lead a broader strategic discussion about engaging neighborhoods and other stakeholders in stormwater management.

The Digital Transformation Journey, hosted by Jennifer Steffens of SUEZ Smart & Environmental Services (Atlanta, Georgia) and Karyn Stickel of HRC Engineering Consultants (Bloomfield Township, Michigan), focuses on how embracing new and innovative technologies can transform stormwater utility operations. Presenters will describe simple steps that stormwater organizations can take to upgrade their technology, drawing on case studies from New Bedford, Massachusetts; Richmond, Virginia; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Moderated by AECOM (Alto, Michigan) Vice President Lucy Pugh, Reducing Industry’s Water Footprint: Alternative Water Sources outlines how treated wastewater and stormwater are increasingly finding new applications in making various industries more sustainable. Presentations will specifically focus on the use of alternative process-water streams in the food and beverage industry and other sectors, as well as addressing regulatory and technical challenges associated with stormwater reuse.

Tuesday, October 19

Three more technical sessions take place on Tuesday, October 19, covering long-term stormwater infrastructure planning, an outlook on the future of the stormwater sector, and climate change adaptation.

Beginning at 11 a.m. Central, Improving Stormwater Management Over the Long Haul provides recommendations on extending the lifespan and improving the efficiency of stormwater infrastructure through innovative operations and maintenance strategies, more robust design standards, and developing a capable stormwater infrastructure workforce. Moderator Christopher Tabor from Hazen & Sawyer (Richmond, Virginia) will guide attendees through a long-term asset management case study from San Diego as well as presentations focused on green infrastructure maintenance and monitoring plan development.

At 1:30 p.m. Central, join moderators Vaikko Allen of Contech (Oxnard, California), Fernando Pasquel of ARCADIS (Arlington, Virginia), and Kevin Boesch of Logan Simpson Design (Tempe, Arizona) for a facilitated discussion on the future of the stormwater management sector. During A Vision for the Future of Stormwater, topics to be discussed by attendees and the expert panel include potential sources of funding for stormwater infrastructure, new operations and maintenance strategies, technological innovation, and more.

Wrap up the day with When the Rain Comes Down and Seas Go Up at 4 p.m. Central, a session focused on improving flood resilience through combinations of both green and gray infrastructure facilitated by Heather Harris of Carollo Engineers (Austin, Texas), Scott Rybarczyk with WENDEL Companies (Buffalo, New York), and Virginia Roach from CDM Smith (Boston, Massachusetts). The discussion, in which audience participation is encouraged, will touch on modeling and project selection under the context of climate change, drawing on case studies from Miami, New Orleans, and Quincy, Massachusetts. 

Wednesday, October 20

On Wednesday, October 20, conclude your WEFTEC experience with two 90-minute sessions focusing on industrial stormwater management and the intricacies of MS4 permits.

Industrial Stormwater: Emerging Requirements, Historical Challenges, and Cutting-Edge Treatment Technology, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Central, features a deep dive on the 2021 update to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). Moderated by Nitin Katiyar of HDR Inc. (Mahwah, New Jersey) and Noelle Slater of AECOM (Virginia Beach, Virginia), presentations will cover new provisions for industrial stormwater management specified in the 2021 MSGP, as well as how chemically enhanced stormwater treatment processes can revolutionize runoff management. The session will draw on several case studies, including those from a large naval installation and several Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation solid-waste management facilities.

At 11 a.m. Central, attend Views on MS4 Permits from Across the Country for insights on innovative MS4 permit compliance strategies as they differ based on geography and jurisdiction. Moderated by engineer John Livsey from the City of Lexington, Massachusetts, CRWD’s Mark Doneux, Zachary Henderson from Woodard & Curran (Portland, Maine), Scott Taylor from Michael Baker International (Carlsbad, California), and Jessica Lassetter from the City of Alexandria, Virginia, the interactive session will feature polls and interactive discussions that enable attendees to compare notes and study new compliance strategies. Several speakers are past winners of WEF’s National Municipal Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Awards.

Additional Learning Opportunities

In addition to WEFTEC 2021’s technical sessions, the exhibition will feature numerous other outlets to learn more about the trends, tactics, and technologies shaping the stormwater sector.

Throughout the conference, visit the Sustainable Development Goals Theater and Global Center within the exhibition hall for a range of presentations that touch on stormwater innovation. The Stormwater Pavilion — a gathering place for exhibitors leading impactful developments in stormwater management technology — will feature a reception on Monday, October 18, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Central, offering attendees the chance to engage with these exhibitors as well as network with colleagues in their field.

Attendee registration for WEFTEC 2021 is available through October 20. Learn more about this year’s program at

Top image courtesy of Oscar & Associates