On the Road toward the Utility of the Future

By Matt Ries
July 11, 2013
 

 

Excerpts from Ries’ welcoming remarks at the WEF Activated Sludge Forum at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., last month 

 

Just over a year ago WEF released its new strategic plan, the result of a yearlong process with input from thousands of members and nonmembers alike. And coming out of that process was WEF's first strategic objective—to drive innovation in the water sector. With global megatrends such as population growth, urbanization, climate change and an economic downturn creating strains on our infrastructure, it is imperative that we be more innovative to achieve our mission and build the Utility of the Future to address those trends.

 

We now know we work in a world of limited resources, both natural and financial. In this country the days of federal grants for water infrastructure are gone. And our dwindling natural resources are being now being quantified:

  • It is estimated we will hit peak phosphorus—the maximum global phosphorus production rate—around 2030 with reserves after that lasting us another century or so.
  • Many think we are at or near peak oil, with global energy demands increasing up to 40 percent by 2030 (that increase alone is more than the entire planet consumed in 1970) , and the International Energy Agency predicts that without a major change in energy policy "the world is locking itself into an unsustainable energy future … [with] far-reaching consequences."
  • Water demands will also increase, and by 2025, it is estimated we will need 60 percent more water than we did in 2000 due to increases in population and climate change.

Nutrients, energy, and water all have their limitations, and all are resources we work with every day.  We can no longer think about our wastewater as a waste, but rather we must think of it as a resource.  Many of you are aware that as of January of this year WEF no longer uses the term “Wastewater Treatment Plants” in our publications, but rather we now use the term “Water Resource Recovery Facilities.”

 

We are increasingly talking about integrated solutions, incorporating stormwater management using green infrastructure and rainwater harvesting; conserving potable water, reusing water, source separation, energy generation, nutrient recovery.  Terms like Integrated Sustainable Urban Water Management, Total Water Management, decentralized infrastructure, water machines – they’re no longer just concepts, they’re being implemented.  Sometimes here, but often in Europe or in the growing urban areas of Southeast Asia, in Australia, even in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

On a personal note, my decision to enroll as part-time Ph.D. student in civil engineering at the University of South Florida, working with the Patel College of Global Sustainability to personally contribute to a more sustainable water infrastructure, was motivated by working with you. My discussions with amazing WEF volunteers doing exciting, cutting-edge, inspirational work have led me down the road to study enabling factors that drive innovation in the US urban water sector.

 

So, in my closing plea to you, I ask you to keep up your good work because you need to be inspiring others too.  Keep researching, keep teaching, keep publishing, keep constructing, and keep mentoring.

 

I truly believe we’ll get to the Utility of the Future – eventually - out of necessity. In part, generational change will drive this movement as the next generation with a new mindset and educational background with exposure to sustainability elements moves into leadership positions.  However, we can’t wait for generational change.  Our job is to drive innovation and identify and exploit those leverage points that will accelerate change because we can’t wait for change to occur--and you are the ones leading that charge.  Thank you for your good work!

 

 07/11/2013Permanent link

On the Road Toward the Utility of the Future  ()
 Just over a year ago WEF released our new strategic plan, the result of a year-long process with input from thousands of members and non-members alike.  And coming out of that process was WEF’s first strategic objective – to drive innovation in the water sector.    With global megatrends like population growth, urbanization, climate change, and an economic downturn creating strains on our infrastructure, it is imperative that we be more innovative to achieve our mission and build the Utility of the Future to address those trends.

Comments (0)


On the Road Toward the Utility of the Future

 Permanent link

On the Road toward the Utility of the Future

By Matt Ries
July 11, 2013
 

 

Excerpts from Ries’ welcoming remarks at the WEF Activated Sludge Forum at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., last month 

 

Just over a year ago WEF released its new strategic plan, the result of a yearlong process with input from thousands of members and nonmembers alike. And coming out of that process was WEF's first strategic objective—to drive innovation in the water sector. With global megatrends such as population growth, urbanization, climate change and an economic downturn creating strains on our infrastructure, it is imperative that we be more innovative to achieve our mission and build the Utility of the Future to address those trends.

 

We now know we work in a world of limited resources, both natural and financial. In this country the days of federal grants for water infrastructure are gone. And our dwindling natural resources are being now being quantified:

  • It is estimated we will hit peak phosphorus—the maximum global phosphorus production rate—around 2030 with reserves after that lasting us another century or so.
  • Many think we are at or near peak oil, with global energy demands increasing up to 40 percent by 2030 (that increase alone is more than the entire planet consumed in 1970) , and the International Energy Agency predicts that without a major change in energy policy "the world is locking itself into an unsustainable energy future … [with] far-reaching consequences."
  • Water demands will also increase, and by 2025, it is estimated we will need 60 percent more water than we did in 2000 due to increases in population and climate change.

Nutrients, energy, and water all have their limitations, and all are resources we work with every day.  We can no longer think about our wastewater as a waste, but rather we must think of it as a resource.  Many of you are aware that as of January of this year WEF no longer uses the term “Wastewater Treatment Plants” in our publications, but rather we now use the term “Water Resource Recovery Facilities.”

 

We are increasingly talking about integrated solutions, incorporating stormwater management using green infrastructure and rainwater harvesting; conserving potable water, reusing water, source separation, energy generation, nutrient recovery.  Terms like Integrated Sustainable Urban Water Management, Total Water Management, decentralized infrastructure, water machines – they’re no longer just concepts, they’re being implemented.  Sometimes here, but often in Europe or in the growing urban areas of Southeast Asia, in Australia, even in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

On a personal note, my decision to enroll as part-time Ph.D. student in civil engineering at the University of South Florida, working with the Patel College of Global Sustainability to personally contribute to a more sustainable water infrastructure, was motivated by working with you. My discussions with amazing WEF volunteers doing exciting, cutting-edge, inspirational work have led me down the road to study enabling factors that drive innovation in the US urban water sector.

 

So, in my closing plea to you, I ask you to keep up your good work because you need to be inspiring others too.  Keep researching, keep teaching, keep publishing, keep constructing, and keep mentoring.

 

I truly believe we’ll get to the Utility of the Future – eventually - out of necessity. In part, generational change will drive this movement as the next generation with a new mindset and educational background with exposure to sustainability elements moves into leadership positions.  However, we can’t wait for generational change.  Our job is to drive innovation and identify and exploit those leverage points that will accelerate change because we can’t wait for change to occur--and you are the ones leading that charge.  Thank you for your good work!

 

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 07/11/2013 10:43:38 AM | 


Comments

MattRies.JPGPosted by:
Matt Ries, P.E. 

Matthew Ries, P.E., is Chief Technical Officer for WEF. In this capacity he oversees staff with responsibility for the technical programming and development of WEF’s e-Learning program, webcasts, seminars, specialty conferences, and WEFTEC, the world’s largest annual water conference. In addition, these staff serve as liaisons to over 20 technical committees and communities of practice. He serves as the staff liaison to the Utility Management Committee and directs WEF’s initiatives on innovation and nutrients.

 


<< December 2014 >>
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

Blog Roll

Archive

Recent Posts