News from the Water Sector
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Milwaukee MMSD Partners with Beijing on Sponge Cities Program
In response to major flood events over the past several years, the Chinese government is investing $16 billion to turn 30 of its cities into ‘sponge cities’ that soak up water and minimize future flood risk. To accomplish this goal, the Chinese Government is working with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), The Water Council, and business leaders in the Milwaukee area to learn more about how Milwaukee has used innovative technologies and approaches to manage flood risk, including: green infrastructure projects, wetland and forest preservation, and a deep tunnel wastewater storage system. On December 7th, MMSD and Beijing Water Authority signed a ‘sister utilities’ agreement in Milwaukee, WI to formally recognize the ongoing partnership.
Winners Announced in Lake Erie “Internet of H2O” Competition
Harmful algal blooms caused by excess nutrients pose a threat to the ecosystem of Lake Erie and the millions of local residents who depend on the lake for drinking water. In order to better understand and communicate water quality conditions, the Cleveland Water Alliance devised an “Internet of H2O” competition for watershed monitoring. The competition, established in partnership with Digital C and US Ignite and supported by local government and community organizations, challenged teams to design a “Smart Lake” strategy that applies the integration of sensors, advanced networking, and insights generated from data science for a robust and resilient nutrient monitoring program. Competitors designed strategies that leverage software and detection technology to monitor, predict, and/or manage phosphorus loading in real time.
Team GLASS (Great Lakes Automated Sampling Solutions), a collaboration between OHM Advisors, Green Eyes LLC, H2Ometrics, and HESCO, won the End-to-End Solution Prize of $25,000 for their fully functioning nutrient monitoring solution capable of transmitting measurements to a cloud data analytics platform. The team ran a successful pilot on Rock Creek in Tiffin, Ohio, and developed a deployment plan to illustrate the scalability of the technology across the Maumee Watershed. Other winners included Team ExtremeComms + MicroBuoy for the $15,000 Technology Innovation Prize and Team Hydrotrek for the $10,000 Network Technology Prize. The Cleveland Water Alliance hopes that winning programs may expand across the Great Lakes and help establish Lake Erie as the first Smart Lake. Established in 2014, Cleveland Water Alliance is a water technology cluster that seeks to better utilize the economic potential of Lake Erie while also promoting stewardship of this valuable and natural asset. Technology clusters are groups of people from the private, public, and academic sectors who share information and resources to spur economic development in their own regions’ water industries. More information on Cleveland Water Alliance.
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays’ Innovative Technology Fund
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund is accepting applications from local governments and non-profits for funding on Chesapeake Bay restoration and water quality improvement projects. $21 million in funding will be allocated to local projects that work to reduce nonpoint source pollution.
In addition to this funding, the Trust Fund also supports the Innovative Technology Fund: a partnership between Maryland DNR, the University of Maryland, and EPA. This fund offers $50,000-$100,000 awards to University of Maryland students and faculty/staff for research and development projects and $50,000-$150,000 in seed capital funding to Maryland-based companies that are working to develop innovative technologies that could help improve water or air quality in the Chesapeake Bay Region. Past projects supported through this fund include research on biofouling screens to improve absorption of nutrients in water, floating treatment wetlands that remove nutrients in poultry waste lagoons, and vegetated walls that can help reduce stormwater, nutrient and sediment runoff into waterways. More information on Innovative Technology Fund.
Water Sector Organizations Highlight 5 Priorities for the Nation’s Water Infrastructure
The Ad Hoc Water Infrastructure Group recently released a document entitled, “Priorities for the Nation’s Water Infrastructure.” The group counts many of the water sector’s leading organizations amongst its members, including: the American Water Works Association, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the US Water Alliance, the Water Environment Federation and WateReuse, to name a few. The document highlights five priority areas and recommends key actions that can be taken by the government and other water sector actors to help repair and replace our nation’s aging water infrastructure. One of the five priority areas named is accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies and the recommended actions include creating a National Water Test Bed Network and a “national program for collaboration and sharing of Best Practices” (p. 8). According to the authors, a National Test Bed Network would help accelerate the evaluation and deployment of innovative technologies in the sector and by helping to reduce market barriers, including the inherently risk averse nature of the water sector. Similarly, a national program for sharing best practices could help encourage the implementation of innovative technologies by allowing utilities to share lessons learned and technical expertise. This program would be of particular value to small and/or rural water systems that may currently lack the technical capacity to adopt some of the more innovative technologies available in the water sector today. To view the full document, visit Priorities for the Nation’s Water Infrastructure (PDF) (12 pp, 3 MB, About PDF).