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The Water Quality Association (WQA) has postponed its 2021 Convention and Exposition until July 28-30. The association said the delay increases the likelihood of hosting a successful in-person event at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the same space originally set aside for WQA to gather in late April.
"We feel that a three-month delay gives us a much better chance at an in-person event," said WQA President DJ Shannahan. "With COVID-19 cases increasing across the country and local governments re-imposing restrictions on gatherings, it was looking less and less likely that we could do that in April."
A number of factors played into the WQA board of governors' decision, including the possibility that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available this spring. The Las Vegas Convention Center, the convention hotels and other major event vendors could accommodate the July dates. Registration had not yet opened for attendees.
More than 3,000 drinking water industry representatives gather each spring for the Convention, which for nearly 50 years has been the industry's signature event. The 2021 convention will include a trade show July 29-30, plus dozens of education sessions, many of them offering continued professional development credit toward recertification, and an opening general Session with keynote speaker Simon T. Bailey.
The WQA annual meeting, the association's business session required to be held in the spring, will take place online. The date and location of the next WQA Business Boot Camp is still being determined.
"As always, safety of our staff, members, exhibitors and attendees is our top priority as we plan any event," said WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser. "We believe this decision gives us the best chance to host the safest and most successful event in 2021 that will benefit the most people. We're already planning a virtual component, too, so that people for whom travel is an issue can still participate."
Health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic led WQA to convert its 2020 convention to an online experience. The 2020 Mid-Year Leadership Conference was also held virtually in September. At this time, WQA still anticipates hosting the 2021 Mid-Year Leadership Conference Sept. 14-16 in Oak Brook, IL, as planned.
More details about the 2021 convention will be communicated to members in coming weeks.