Nov 15, 2019

SWS Conference & Exhibition 2019: Taking the Industry by Storm

The third annual Storm Water Solutions Conference & Exhibition brought together industry professionals. 

SWS Conference & Expo 2019

The third annual Storm Water Solutions (SWS) Conference & Exhibition brought together industry leaders from across the storm water and erosion control industries. Held Nov. 12 to 14, 2019, at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, Ill., near Chicago, the live event facilitated passionate discussions about storm water and erosion control challenges and solutions. 

To kick off the conference, a group of attendees visited the Metropolitan Reclamation Water District of Greater Chicago on Tuesday for a tour of the mainstream pumping station.

Attendees visited the Metropolitan Reclamation Water District of Greater Chicago on Tuesday for a tour of the mainstream pumping station.
Attendees visited the Metropolitan Reclamation Water District of Greater Chicago for a tour of the mainstream pumping station.

To start, attendees learned a bit about the history of MWRD (some fun facts included learning it’s the third largest property owner in Cook County, Ill., and the plant treats over a billion gallons of water a day.) and visited the control room where an operator is on hand 24/7.

To end the tour, attendees grabbed hard hats and took a 300-ft elevator ride underground to the pumping station. The MWRD Tunnel and Reservoir Plan is a deep tunnel and reservoir system that is used to manage combined sewer overflows throughout Chicagoland. The system includes 31 miles of tunnels, which flow toward the Mainstream Pumping Station and end up at the water reclamation plant. 

The second day kicked-off with keynote speaker Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. Frisbie addressed storm water management as it relates to the Chicago River. Friends of the Chicago River is the only organization exclusively dedicated to improving and protecting the Chicago River system.

Margaret Frisbie talks about the importance of the Chicago River to the city's community during her keynote presentation. #swsconference2019 #swsconference19 via Whova event app https://t.co/KqV45XyYU1 pic.twitter.com/Tka2fUwJ3Y

— Water & Wastes Digest (@WWDMag) November 13, 2019

Since being appointed to her position in 2005, Frisbie has been working to improve water quality; develop guidance for responsible river corridor development; create habitat for wildlife; connect people to the river; and establish relationships with the civic, corporate, and government leaders throughout the Chicago River watershed.

“The river system is 156 miles long, it is the reason why Chicago is here,” said Frisbie in her speech. “We need to change how people think about the river.” 

Following this educational speech was a day of networking and sessions led by industry leaders. These sessions sparked genuine discussions and raised questions about the applicability of various storm water and erosion control management efforts. 

Among some of the industry leaders were Contech Engineered Solutions LLC, Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. and Xylem Water Solutions, Inc.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to attend the Vendor Showcases, which offered information about the latest, effective products in the storm water and erosion control industries.

The exhibit hall also featured a passport program to encourage attendees to collect signatures from exhibitors to compete for prizes while facilitating conversations with technology leaders. The prize drawing was held the final day of the conference following the SWS Top Project Luncheon. Among some of the prizes were a drone, kayak, paddleboard and numerous gift cards.

passport program prizes
Some of the passport program prizes.

Finally, at the SWS Top Project Luncheon, SWS Managing Editor Katie Johns presented the SWS Top Project awards with the assistance of WQP Managing Editor Lauren Del Ciello to the 10 winners of the 2019 contest. The number one Top Project winner for 2019 is Whispering Firs Stormwater Park, for a $4 million project treating 113 acres of high-use roadway and residential areas. This project treated total suspended solids, total petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and nutrients and reduces flows to Clear Creek. 

Winner profiles will be featured in the December 2019 issue of SWS magazine in both print and online.

Number one Top Project winner Whispering Firs Stormwater Park
Number one Top Project winner Whispering Firs Stormwater Park

Watch a recap of the conference here!

expand_less