Continuing this thread is Cindy Wallis-Lage, President, Water Business at Black & Veatch.
“We have increasing populations, rising middle class, growth in water scarce locations -- all contributing to an increased water demand yet we have a fixed water supply,” said Wallis-Lage.“To address the increased demand we cannot continue to categorize wastewater as a waste; rather, we need to shift our perspective to focus on the valuable resource it provides for water, energy and other constituents such as nutrients. For a city to improve its water resilience, the water system must be viewed holistically.”
She said the session she is leading on “Global Solutions for Local Needs (Waste Water)” will discuss “hot topics” including: low energy and low footprint biological treatment, wastewater infrastructure, the need to remove/control trace organics, and the need for increased automation.
“Going forward, the rapid growth in many cities warrants consideration of decentralized treatment options and ideas such as sewer mining for reuse. This approach creates opportunity for local reuse applications vs. constructing a large reuse system infrastructure. It won't be the answer for every city, but it is an option worth considering for integration with existing infrastructure,” she said.
“Additional treatment concepts must be explored as well as understanding how to control the formation of some trace organics to minimize the need for downstream treatment,” she added.
“As an industry, we need to focus our discussions on ‘Water.’ We have traditionally focused on segregation of water to highlight its quality vs. seeing the big-picture and inter-connectedness of the whole water system. Our session is one piece of the water system that is integral to addressing the water supply challenges and thus must be viewed as a key piece of the water puzzle.”
The STIS also aims to identify and prioritize research needs and technology focus areas (TFAs) for the entire water value chain. There is a need for ongoing research to further develop and optimize the performance of these technologies, and at the same time, implementation decisions regarding these technologies have become more critical. In order to help guide research direction and implementation decisions, the Summit will prioritize TFAs into Tier-1 and Tier-2, based on their impact and effort.
However, identification of TFAs is only the first step to bringing innovation into the water sector. To facilitate the evaluation and validation of a wider range of innovative technologies on a larger scale, the water sector should look into developing more platforms where a variety of stakeholders along the water and wastewater supply chain can collaborate on R&D.
Multi-stakeholder collaboration can also enable risk management to be shared among several parties, since businesses or industrial water users can be risk-averse due to the need to protect the profitability of their business.
There is thus a need for all water stakeholders to look into attracting investors to fund innovative technologies and start-ups, and to explore different financing models that can facilitate introduction and adoption of innovative water solutions.