What the World's Water Needs Now: Innovation and Appreciation
Posted May 1, 2012
By Eileen O'Neill, Deputy Executive Director, Water Environment Federation
Yesterday, we were fortunate to host some guests from Germany including the Lord Mayor of Bottrop, a town in North-Rhine Westphalia who joined us for lunch and to talk about energy-positive wastewater systems. These kinds of international exchanges of experience and aspirations can be both enlightening and even inspirational as we try to understand how to increase the pace of innovation in the water sector. It’s great to hear how, in more distant locations and close to home, wastewater is viewed as a resource that can provide value to local communities.
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The way we’re thinking about water is certainly changing, and we have come a long way since the Clean Water Act was passed almost forty years ago. The Act certainly provided a firm foundation for safe and effective wastewater treatment and standards in the US. Today, however, water quality professionals are working on newer, more complex challenges like urban stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollution. But more recent water supply and sustainability stressors such as population growth and climate change have also come into play, and opportunities to address them abound. Now WEF and the water community are looking beyond treatment to emphasize the reuse and resource recovery needed to ensure safe and clean water for the generations ahead.
While forward-thinking professionals like our German friends will engineer the necessary water resource recovery programs, everyone can learn to appreciate Earth’s precious water. Take the Pledge, water’s worth it--after all, we wouldn’t be here without it.