WEF's membership newsletter covers current Federation activities, Member Association news, and items of concern to the water quality field. WEF Highlights is your source for the most up-to-the-minute WEF news and member information.

February 2012, Vol. 49, No. 1

Top Story

Devising a Communications Strategy for Utilities

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With current budget constraints, many water and wastewater treatment utilities need to do more with fewer resources, and communications plans often are pushed aside. But the overall approval and support that various groups — including customers, media, government officials, and advocacy organizations — have for a utility can be the difference between a new project going forward or not and can determine the amount of time utility staff members spend to regain public support after a pipe breaks or an accident occurs.

Waiting to initiate communications strategy costs more in the long term
One of the largest mistakes utilities make is to only communicate to the public when there is need for approval or cooperation, rates have increased, or a problem has occurred, explained Sara Katz, founder and president of the communications firm Katz & Associates Inc. (San Diego). 

A Clean Water Services (CWS; Hillsboro, Ore.) employee educates children about protecting water resources. Photo courtesy of Karen DeBaker, CWS communications manager. Click for larger image.
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WEF Member Organizations Hit the Streets To Educate the Public

DC Water and the Florida Water Environment Association host first annual educational events

Educating the next generation on the importance of water is a priority for many wastewater treatment utilities and professionals. And for the first time, two Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member organizations have taken the lessons to the public.

In fall 2011, the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA; Orlando), a WEF Member Association, and DC Water, a WEF member, held outreach educational events teaching children about the importance of water.

FWEA hosts educational activities for hundreds of children and adults
More than 400 people attended FWEA’s Florida Water Festival on Oct. 22. The first annual event, held at Baldwin Park Village Center in Orlando, was held to teach students about water science and Florida’s water environment, and to teach the general public about water quality. Attendees were able to participate in activities and watch water quality demonstrations, according to the FWEA website.
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Community members learn about water science and Florida's water environment at the Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA; Orlando) Water Festival. Photo courtesy of Greg Kolb, FWEA member and event chair. Click for larger image.
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WEF’s New Strategic Direction — A Decade in the Making but Well Worth the Wait

Matt Bond 2012For those of you who do not know me, I am a detail-oriented, analytical guy. So when I am with some of my expressive Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) peers and we start to talk about the excitement of our strategic planning process, I finally understand that it is neither the process nor the analysis that excites most people. The excitement comes from the results, and I can assure you that every one of our members will be excited at the outcome of our year-long odyssey to establish a new strategic direction for WEF’s future.

The WEF Board of Trustees and staff worked throughout 2011 to evaluate all facets of WEF; give every WEF member the opportunity to provide input through surveys, focus groups, and interviews; and develop a future direction that responds to the needs of the water sector and WEF members. Our planning was extremely successful due to an enthusiastic, willing, and able Board of Trustees; excellent WEF staff leadership, especially our new Executive Director Jeff Eger; and great data from our consultant-assisted process, which involved obtaining data from our members, external stakeholders, and other nonprofit organizations.

The result of our efforts is a new, bold strategic direction for WEF.
Matt Bond, 2011–2012 WEF President
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McDonogh School Receives Cutting-Edge Technology To Establish New Laboratory

Maryland students have the opportunity to work with microbial fuel cells

The McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Md., has received an important new addition to its science program: laboratory-scale microbial fuel cells. The fuel cells and the accompanying equipment, provided through a partnership with Bruce Logan of Pennsylvania State University (University Park), and Kershner Environmental Technologies LLC (Reisterstown, Md.), help form the new McDonogh Energy and Environment Nexus Laboratory.

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Daniel Kershner (front), McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.) student, and Sarah Krolus (third from front), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.) student, learn how to make the membrane cathode in the microbial fuel cell labs at Penn State (University Park). Photo courtesy of Rob Kershner of Kershner Environmental Technologies (Reisterstown, Md.). Click for larger image. 
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