ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Rita Colwell, Ph.D., a distinguished professor from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate, and a world-renowned expert on waterborne diseases, will deliver the technical keynote address during the Opening General Session of WEFTEC 2011 this fall in Los Angeles. Following Colwell will be a special presentation from Doc Hendley, founder and president of Wine To Water and one of CNN’s Heroes in 2009. The opening session will kick off the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 84th annual technical exhibition and conference, a five-day event that is expected to draw thousands of water quality professionals and exhibitors to the Los Angeles Convention Center from Oct. 15-19, 2011.

Widely recognized as one of this century’s most influential voices in science, technology, and policy associated with water and health, Colwell has made exceptional contributions to control the spread of cholera, a waterborne pathogen that infects 3 to 5 million people and leads to an estimated 120,000 deaths each year. Through her groundbreaking research, innovations and decades of scientific leadership, she has defined our current understanding of the ecology of infectious diseases and developed the use of advanced technologies to halt their spread. Her work has established the basis for environmental and infectious disease risk assessment used around the world. Colwell is expected to share her insights into the necessity of clean water and sanitation to the preservation of public health.

Hendley’s Wine To Water ( is a 501(c)(3) non-profit aid organization focused on providing clean water to needy people around the world. In 2003, Hendley dreamed up the concept of the organization while bartending and playing music in nightclubs around Raleigh, N.C. In February 2004, the first fundraiser was held and by August of that same year, Hendley was living in Darfur, Sudan, installing water systems for victims of the government-supported genocide. When Hendley returned home in August 2005, the haunting memories of what he had seen in Darfur drove him to continue building the organization he started two years before. In 2007, after working two jobs and volunteering his time for more than three years, Wine To Water became an official 501 (c) (3) and Hendley’s dream finally became a reality.

Scheduled for Monday, Oct. 17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the program also will feature 2010-2011 WEF President Jeanette Brown, recognition of WEF awards, and the 2011 Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners. Click here for full program details.