Innovating for Water’s Future Roundtable – Opportunities and Solutions for Innovation

The U.S. Water Alliance (USWA) and the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) recently convened a roundtable of industry leaders to discuss ways to promote the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies within the water industry.

“Innovating for Water’s Future” was an all day event consisting of three sessions, including an in-depth discussion on opportunities and solutions to innovation. During this session water and wastewater equipment manufacturers, municipalities and public works officials discussed and shared their point-of-view on the biggest opportunities for innovation.

According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by WWEMA, the top five opportunities for manufacturers to innovate are:

  • Employ full-cost pricing of water
  • Using “value based” versus “or equal” procurement procedures
  • Address permitting requirements
  • Establish a federal guarantee program for technology replacement
  • Prioritize low cost of ownership in the selection of technologies

During the session Federal regulators also offered their perspective on opportunities and solutions for encouraging new technologies. According to the regulators, innovation and new technologies is a priority, not only because of the potential implications for public health and the environment, but also because the development of such new technologies is good for U.S. exports and helps to maintain the nation’s trade surplus.

The federal regulators offered some examples of innovation the federal government has developed and/or recognized through awards programs, including a smart phone application with a sensor that provides real-time water quality data; the SWIM, a storm water data calculator; and a pipe leak-detection product currently in use as a pilot program by the Department of Defense.

One way the federal government supports innovation is through the EPA Office of Research & Development’s recently formed water technology and innovation clusters. There are 10-11 such clusters currently operating throughout the United States, each with different priorities related to water, such as jobs, agriculture, economy, etc.

In addition to the federal regulators, state regulators are fundamentally supportive of innovative technologies, as they are interested in improving water quality and growing the economy.

Participants of this session included Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Water, U.S. EPA; Suzanne van Drunick and Sally Gutierrez, Office of Research and Development, U.S. EPA; Alex Dunn, Executive Director and General Counsel, Association of Clean Water Administrators and Jim Taft, Executive Director, Association of State Drinking Water Administrat

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