Four Challenges for the Water Profession

Posted by Richard Kuchenrither
March 5, 2013
 

 

The water profession is facing four significant challenges. These challenges include water renovation, infrastructure (pipelines and treatment plants), sustainable and renewable technologies, and the need for new water professionals. These four challenges are forcing the water profession into a new era.

 

The need for renovation and new infrastructure is a tremendous global issue. The United States alone has a significant amount of plants and pipelines that are more than 100 years old. These structures need expansion, replacement, or to be brought up to new code in some cases. The exponential growth of the world population requires continual placement of new infrastructure which could require more than a trillion dollars over the next 25 years! In developing countries, there are two billion people without access to water and any type of sanitation and hygiene facilities. The basic principles for providing infrastructure for large utilities in the U.S. and very small villages in developing countries are the same. The needed solutions, skills, and tools are very similar, but on very different scales.

 

Water is a valuable and critical resource. Human existence is dependent on it. We must ensure that we create ways to sustain and renew water sources so it remains a resource that is available to support life. Water reuse requires public acceptance and protection, regulatory approval, and a focused concentration on new sustainable technologies.

The challenge is to ensure that new technologies can convert waste into a reusable and renewable resource. Success requires that power and energy are extracted from the transport and treatment of water. Additionally, that heat and power are extracted from wastewater treatment and biosolids. The goal is that all treatment facilities are positive energy producers, not consumers.
Success ensures that the water treatment profession can be confident that water resources are available and growing.

 

In the early 1970’s, Congress passed two important acts, The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The two acts provided significant funding for investment in new treatment facilities and educating new water professionals. Forty years later a large percentage of the water professionals, who designed, constructed, and operated the water facilities, and provided fantastic healthy
and clean water that we now enjoy in the United States, are approaching retirement. There are over 45,000 water and wastewater facilities in the United States. The need for a replacement workforce, currently estimated at nearly 300,000 water professionals, with nearly a third of these eligible for retirement, increases daily.

 

Workforce retirement coupled with the need for renovation and new infrastructure, along with the need for new sustainable and renewable technologies, provides clear evidence of the need for many new water professionals. The new cadre of professionals is called upon to meet the water challenges of the 21st century. The old challenges, faced by the existing water professionals, have been accomplished. The new challenges make this a great professional field to enter. You are challenged to carry the new water era forward!

 

Excerpted with permission of the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

 

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Four Challenges for the Water Profession  ()
 

Posted by Richard KuchenritherMarch 1, 2013    The water profession is facing four significant challenges. These challenges include water renovation, infrastructure (pipelines and treatment plants), sustainable and renewable technologies, and the need for new water professionals. These four challenges are

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Four Challenges for the Water Profession

 Permanent link

Four Challenges for the Water Profession

Posted by Richard Kuchenrither
March 5, 2013
 

 

The water profession is facing four significant challenges. These challenges include water renovation, infrastructure (pipelines and treatment plants), sustainable and renewable technologies, and the need for new water professionals. These four challenges are forcing the water profession into a new era.

 

The need for renovation and new infrastructure is a tremendous global issue. The United States alone has a significant amount of plants and pipelines that are more than 100 years old. These structures need expansion, replacement, or to be brought up to new code in some cases. The exponential growth of the world population requires continual placement of new infrastructure which could require more than a trillion dollars over the next 25 years! In developing countries, there are two billion people without access to water and any type of sanitation and hygiene facilities. The basic principles for providing infrastructure for large utilities in the U.S. and very small villages in developing countries are the same. The needed solutions, skills, and tools are very similar, but on very different scales.

 

Water is a valuable and critical resource. Human existence is dependent on it. We must ensure that we create ways to sustain and renew water sources so it remains a resource that is available to support life. Water reuse requires public acceptance and protection, regulatory approval, and a focused concentration on new sustainable technologies.

The challenge is to ensure that new technologies can convert waste into a reusable and renewable resource. Success requires that power and energy are extracted from the transport and treatment of water. Additionally, that heat and power are extracted from wastewater treatment and biosolids. The goal is that all treatment facilities are positive energy producers, not consumers.
Success ensures that the water treatment profession can be confident that water resources are available and growing.

 

In the early 1970’s, Congress passed two important acts, The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The two acts provided significant funding for investment in new treatment facilities and educating new water professionals. Forty years later a large percentage of the water professionals, who designed, constructed, and operated the water facilities, and provided fantastic healthy
and clean water that we now enjoy in the United States, are approaching retirement. There are over 45,000 water and wastewater facilities in the United States. The need for a replacement workforce, currently estimated at nearly 300,000 water professionals, with nearly a third of these eligible for retirement, increases daily.

 

Workforce retirement coupled with the need for renovation and new infrastructure, along with the need for new sustainable and renewable technologies, provides clear evidence of the need for many new water professionals. The new cadre of professionals is called upon to meet the water challenges of the 21st century. The old challenges, faced by the existing water professionals, have been accomplished. The new challenges make this a great professional field to enter. You are challenged to carry the new water era forward!

 

Excerpted with permission of the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

 

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 03/01/2013 03:39:02 PM | 


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Richard KuchenricherPosted by:
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Richard Kuchenrither is the program director for the Water Engineering and Management Graduate Certificate in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Colorado-Boulder.