Image Credit: Jennifer Berrie/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
NAWI Executive Director Peter Fiske presented at WEFTEC 2023, the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference. The largest conference of its kind, WEFTEC 2023 was held from 30 September to 4 October 2023 in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America. Fiske’s presentation, titled Advancing Desalination and Treatment of Non- Traditional Source Water: The First 3.5 Years of the National Alliance for Water Innovation, delved into NAWI’s portfolio of 74 research projects, network of 440+ NAWI Alliance member organizations, and more. Access the presentation here.
One primary objective of the NAWI program is to foster stronger connections between the academic research community and the water industry. We actively promote and financially support collaborative research initiatives, bringing together experts from academia, industry, and national laboratories. Additionally, we advocate for the direct involvement of industry professionals in all our research projects through their active membership in Project Support Groups.
The NAWI Leadership Team recently had a valuable chance to actively connect with the water treatment community during our participation in the annual Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC). NAWI unveiled its inaugural booth at WEFTEC and took the opportunity to host two noteworthy sessions: one focusing on the NAWI research program and another as an informational session within the “Innovation Theater.” We were thrilled to receive numerous visits from members of the NAWI Alliance community at our booth. The NAWI team was particularly grateful to be invited to Rockwell’s reception.
During the four-day event, the NAWI team actively participated in knowledge sharing, engaged in peer-to-peer dialogues, and fostered in-depth discussions. From these interactions, several intriguing themes surfaced:
- The concept of OneWater is challenging the water industry’s historical “stovepipe” separations between drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment. OneWater is also igniting some of the biggest thinking related to water treatment design and practice over the last century. Industrial water users and systems designers repeatedly emphasized their desire for breakthrough technologies that can facilitate improved use and reuse of the wastewater they generate. The drive for water efficiency is coming not only from practical concerns about securing more resilient water supplies at the level of individual manufacturing facilities, but also from strong corporate-level Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) goals. The head of Veolia’s North American Industrial Water Practice Area Patrick Schultz summed it up: “Most companies we are speaking with have [water reuse] goals, but no plans.”
- Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) is gaining significant momentum and recognition in the field. An all-star panel of experts and regulators gave a summary of the current state-of- play of DPR regulations emerging in across the United States. While specific standards and requirements vary considerably among the handful of states that have released proposed or adopted standards, this diversity may actually accelerate the speed at which new states establish DPR. Why? A new state can look at different approaches chosen by different states and adopt an approach that is “right for them” as opposed to struggling to fit itself within a single national standard.
- Corporate ESG goals are driving more than just an interest in water reuse but also an interest in zero-liquid discharge (ZLD) treatment plans. ZLD eliminates industrial discharges entirely—mitigating potential environmental risks while achieving significant milestones in corporate ESG objectives. “I never heard from industrial customers about ZLD five years ago,” noted one water industry leader, “but now it’s actively discussed and considered.”
The NAWI team will continue to engage the water industry directly at future trade shows and conferences. Our 2024 Annual Meeting, to be held from March 11-13 in Denver, Colorado, is set to align perfectly with the WateReuse Association’s Annual Meeting. This timing will bring us together in the same city, allowing for exciting opportunities to collaborate on joint activities and initiatives. Stay tuned for more information!