A trio of water utility associations is jointly offering utility personnel professional scholarships that will cover their expenses to travel and study innovations implemented by their peers around the country.
“The total pot of funds is $30,000, contributed equally from the three organizations,” explains Aaron Fisher, technology and innovation manager at the Water Environment & Reuse (WE&RE) Foundation, one of the participating organizations. “We plan on spending the money on scholarships until it is exhausted. So, there’s no set number of trips.”
The LIFT Scholarship Exchange Experience for Innovation & Technology Program is a pilot, Fisher says, adding that the program may continue if it is successful.
The WE&RE homepage has a link to the application. The nonprofit foundation identifies, supports and disseminates research to enhance the quality and reliability of water systems with an integrated approach to recovery and reuse. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the Water Environment Federation are the other two participating groups.
Targeted innovations may include new technologies and processes but also novel approaches to service, operations and finance. Recipients are expected to share their experiences with their peers.
Fidan Karimova, WE&RE’s water technology collaboration manager, says the idea is to address the fact that successful pilots of new technology often do not lead to widespread adoption.
“That’s why we are trying to find ways to [bridge] that gap and help decision-makers to make the decisions of implementation,” says Karimova. “They have concerns about spending a lot of money on technologies they may not fully understand, and they prefer to see them in person.”