A new report provides recommendations for specific actions the water sector and local governments can take to reduce water pollution and address climate change through improving stormwater controls.
The first report to be released by the Water Environment Federation's new Stormwater Institute charts a path forward in which all stormwater will be considered reusable and manageable through a mix of sustainable green, gray and natural infrastructure. With urban populations expected to grow significantly in coming decades and more frequent and intense storms occurring across the country, the report also says "there is an ever-increasing pressure on stormwater systems and water infrastructure" to innovate and reduce water pollution.
The report was released at WEFTEC, held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 in Chicago. Innovation in green infrastructure and resiliency in the face of climate change was a major focus of the conference.
Stan Meiburg, EPA's acting deputy administrator, described his agency's establishment in January of the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center to provide cities with financial strategies to help them build systems that are sustainable and resilient. "Deeper droughts, stronger storms ... threaten our health and communities. They also mean that the water infrastructure we build going forward has got to stand up not only to today's realities but [also] the uncertainty we face tomorrow to be prepared and be resilient."
At the conference, WEF officials also released their annual "Water Resources of the Future" report. Developed by a group of water-sector associations-the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Research Foundation, WateReuse and WEF-the report provides an update on the efforts of a number of utilities to look at the treatment of wastewater as a recoverable resource. "This report effectively communicates the transformation of water utilities to full resource recovery centers [in which] everything is reused," said Melissa Meeker, executive director of WateReuse, in a statement.
At a press briefing for reporters, GE Power and Water officials unveiled a new, more energy-efficient system for removing nutrients during secondary treatment. The ZeeLung membrane- aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) system installs membranes directly into existing bioreactor tanks, reducing the need to build extra capacity.
The system delivers oxygen at a biochemical efficiency rate that is four times greater than fine-bubble aeration, GE Water officials said.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago is pilot-testing the technology at the O'Brien water reclamation plant in Skokie, Ill., to see if the MABR system can help the district to become energy-neutral by 2023, said Commissioner Mariyana Spyropolous, president of the MWRD board of commissioners.
At the show, the Water Council, Milwaukee, unveiled a new water-project collaboration tool that provides information on patents and technology.