NAWI’s theory of action is based on the belief that technical innovation is most impactful when it is performed in context. Materials are contextualized within a process; processes are contextualized within treatment trains; treatment trains are contextualized within water systems. While pandemic shut-downs have had minimal effect on our materials and process development projects, we have sorely missed the opportunity to visit water system operators. Pre-pandemic visits to Carlsbad West Basin Water District in LA and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant in El Paso, Texas allowed us to learn about non-traditional source water treatment trains designs, operational challenges, and economic benefits for water users.
So it was tremendously exciting when federal travel restrictions were eased in March and we were finally able to resume NAWI field trips. Our first three visits were to Trevi Systems, a NAWI project performer working on concentrate management in Petaluma, CA; Red Rocks community college, the site of a USBR pilot facility for reusing cooling water blowdown; and Dr. Tzahi Cath’s Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) trailer, then located in Colorado Springs. Visits to each site provided an opportunity to see NAWI technologies (or related unit processes) in action, hear directly from operators about the challenges and opportunities for low TRL research to make a difference in the cost and energy intensity of their treatment trains, and brainstorm creative new ideas for future collaboration.
The NAWI technical program looks forward to facilitating and hosting many similar site-visits in the months to come. If you are an Alliance Member operating a small scale facility that would like to host NAWI performers, please reach out to Zach Stoll, our Research Program Manager, who will gladly work with you and our project performers to facilitate future visits. Similarly, if you are a NAWI performer interested in attending a site with the NAWI team, please stay tuned for future emails about opportunities to join.