A personal welcome from 2018–2019 WEF President Tom Kunetz.
From its very beginnings, my home city of Chicago has been a water city. Sitting on the confluence of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, the first humans who visited the area that would eventually become Chicago found it a pleasant place for fishing and gathering. Much later, it was rediscovered by trappers and traders in canoes looking for a route to the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes. Soon after the traders, a fort and trading post were established, leading to a settlement, a raucous frontier town, a farming village, a hard-working industrial city, and, eventually, the vibrant modern urban city you see today.
In every era, water played a role in the city’s development — for food, for transportation, for irrigation, for commerce, for drinking water, for sanitation and drainage, for stormwater control, for recreation, and for nature.
Just as water welcomed the first humans to the area centuries ago, water again is the draw to Chicago with the 92nd annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference. As you immerse yourself in the events, you’ll notice how much water is still part of Chicago today. From the large picture windows on the east side of McCormick Place, look to the horizon and see the sail boats on Lake Michigan. Crane your neck a little to the north and you can see the city’s main drinking water intake crib sitting 2 miles off shore.
Outside of the convention center, walk close to the Main Stem of the Chicago River on our new River Walk on the south shore of the Chicago River. This areaused to be filled with shipping vessels and warehouses. Or, rent a kayak and see the city’s architecture from the river level. Take a peek inside the century-year old Water Pumping Station in the castle-shaped building on North Michigan Avenue. Rent a bicycle and pedal along the city’s “front yard,” a 14-mile path that passes sandy beaches, native prairies, and a bird sanctuary. Enjoy the city’s several fountains, including Buckingham Fountain and the Centennial Fountain, that shoots a cannon of water across the Chicago River, symbolizing how water connects the two shores of the city.
Welcome to WEFTEC
And don’t forget to attend the conference! With more than 145 technical sessions, 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Operations Challenge competition, and 20,000 of your friendliest colleagues from around the world, there is no better place in the world right now for a water professional!
Get connected, listen, speak, and share. WEF’s Vision Statement is never more visible than at WEFTEC: We are a community of empowered professionals creating a healthy global water environment.
Welcome back to my Sweet Home Chicago!
2018–2019 WEF President Tom Kunetz