Frequently Asked Questions
The Water Environment Federation was founded in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. in 1928, through a grant from the Chemical Foundation, as the Federation of Sewage Works Associations. The organization's original purpose was to publish the Sewage Works Journal for those in wastewater treatment. Today, WEF materials and services have expanded to meet a wide spectrum of water quality needs
Member Associations (MAs) and Corresponding Associations (CAs) are local organizations for water quality professionals. They provide exciting and informative activities and services to WEF members around the world. MAs are independently governed from WEF, however, each MA is represented on WEF's Board of Directors. WEF believes it to be vital that WEF members also join their local MA, and it is a requirement of membership. WEF works with MAs and CAs to produce many programs, including high quality technical conferences, operator training and certification programs, local and regional legislative and regulatory activities, educational programs, affiliations with other professional organizations, and much more. For more information and links to MA websites, visit the MA Resource Center.
You may join more than 2,500 volunteers, working through WEF's committees, to create the products and services that members and customers need to be the best in their profession. These volunteers ensure that WEF's position on regulatory and legislative activities is carried forward, and that WEF members are recognized for their service and commitment to WEF and the water quality profession
Your work with a WEF committee can be one of the most important contributions you will make to the water environment profession and to your career. To become a committee member, select the committee(s) which best fits your interest and experience and call the Customer Service Center at 1-800-666-0206 or +1703-684-2400 ext. 7980 (globally).
Interested individuals can obtain sample issues by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-800-666-0206 or 1-703-684-2400 ext. 7980 (globally)
Requests to reproduce or distribute copies of WEF published material must be sent in writing to the WEF Journals and Books department via fax at 1-703-684-2492 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the following guidelines for what information must be included in the request.
After review and consideration of the request, a WEF Journals and Books department staff member will respond in writing granting or denying permission to the WEF copyrighted material.
WEF is a technical organization based on the level of expertise it requires for each project, publication, conference, and meeting it sponsors. WEF relies on the knowledge and credentials of its volunteer and paid staff to ensure the highest quality products. Examples of WEF's technical, peer-developed products include: WEFTEC (WEF's Technical Exhibition and Conference)--North America's largest conference and exposition on water quality and wastewater treatment technology and issues; Operator Training programs, workshops, and seminars approved for continuing education and/or experience credit by many operator certification agencies; Specialty Conferences featuring key water quality topics; and more than 190 technical publications - like the peer-reviewed Manuals of Practice (MOPs) covering water quality topics ranging from prevention and control of sewer overflows to water reuse.
The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF), a nonprofit organization formed in 1989, is America’s leading independent scientific research organization dedicated to wastewater and stormwater issues. WERF has managed nearly 400 research projects, valued at more than $85 million. WE&RF operates with funding from subscribers, including wastewater treatment plants, stormwater utilities, regulatory agencies, industry, equipment companies, engineers, and environmental consultants, and the federal government. All research is peer reviewed by leading experts. For more information, contact WERF at 1-703-684-2470 or visit the WE&RF Website.
WEF has had four organizational names since its founding in 1928:
- The Federation of Sewage Works Associations until 1950;
- The Federation of Sewage and Industrial Wastes Associations from 1950-1960;
- The Water Pollution Control Federation until October 1991; and, now
- The Water Environment Federation.
Founded in 1881, the American Water Works Association represents more than 57,000 members who provide about 85 percent of the North American population with safe drinking water.
Point source pollution originates from a specific locale, such as a factory discharge pipe, and is typically easy to locate and control
What is Nonpoint Source Pollution?
Nonpoint source pollution is caused by various land use practices, air deposition, and many of our daily activities. This pollution can close beaches, endanger wildlife, and contaminate drinking water resources. Unlike specific point sources such as discharge pipes, nonpoint source pollution comes from many different spots and it's often difficult to control.
What Are the Pollutants?
Nonpoint source pollutants include nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and septic tank systems, sediments from construction and timber harvest sites, pesticides from agricultural lands, salts from winter road treatment, and trace metals and toxic chemicals from inadequately protected landfills.
How Can Consumers Help?
Pollution prevention is essential to reducing nonpoint source pollution. Examples of pollution prevention include detention ponds for capturing sediments in stormwater runoff, and buffer strips of vegetation to separate farmed or urban lands from nearby waters. Citizens can reduce nonpoint source pollution if they:
- Reduce or eliminate the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides on lawns and gardens,
- Seed or mulch areas where soil can wash away.
- Never dispose of used engine oils, paint/paint thinners, and pesticides in sewers, septic tanks, storm drains or directly onto land. Dispose of them at household hazardous waste disposal locations.
- Take public transportation, ride in carpools, and limit driving when possible to reduce air emissions. Properly maintain cars to eliminate oil and gasoline leaks.
Biosolids are a safe and beneficial resource composed of essential plant nutrient and organic matter that is recovered from the treatment of domestic sewage in a wastewater treatment facility. Biosolids can be reused and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and to stimulate plant growth. Farmers and gardeners have been reusing biosolids for ages. Biosolids are also used to fertilize gardens and parks and to reclaim mining sites. They are carefully monitored and must be used in accordance with regulatory requirements.
What Is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water is highly treated wastewater that can be used to supplement existing water supplies. Using reclaimed water for irrigation, water features, and in industry can be an environmentally efficient and cost-effective alternative to using drinking water.
How Is Reclaimed Water Used?
Agricultural irrigation is a common way to use reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is also used around the world to irrigate lawns and golf courses. Water reuse programs can supplement lakes and streams to improve wildlife habitats; creates artificial lakes for picnicking, fishing, and boating; and provide water for use in fountains at many commercial buildings and parks.
How Safe Is Reclaimed Water?
Reclaimed water undergoes a high level of treatment to remove bacteria and viruses from wastewater. Extensive testing is performed to assure water quality standards are met. In the United States, for example, reclaimed water has been used safely for more than four decades. Water reuse is a safe and environmentally responsible approach to conserving finite water resources.
Why Pay for More Treatment Than Necessary?
Communities pay the costs when streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater resources are tapped to provide drinking water in support of municipal, industrial, or agricultural use. This is because they are paying for a level of water purification needed only for drinking.
When reclaimed water is used where possible:
• Drinking water sources are conserved;
• Existing water treatment facilities last longer;
• Construction of new water treatment facilities can be deferred; and
• A reliable new source of non-potable water is established.
In addition, dollars saved through water reuse programs become available to address other community priorities.
What Can Consumers Do?
As new supplies of fresh water become scarcer and more expensive to develop, the value of water reuse programs continues to grow. Once the initial costs for capital facilities and distribution systems are met, the long-term results include substantial environmental and financial savings. Consumers can support water reuse programs in their communities when appropriate and contact their local wastewater treatment facilities for more information.