A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Monday, January 24, 2011

Milwaukee-Brew City to Brewing MegaWater City

The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee has been previously blogged in the Rainbow Water Coalition for its community financial investment in water technology, to the tune of $4.5M. WaterWired recently posted on the generous private donation to the tune of $2.6M to add a Water Policy Center to UWM. And with this recent news article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about UWM's strategies to *dive* into the water market shows this area once known for its megabreweries plans on being one of the world's leaders in water research, ranging from freshwater sciences, water treatment technology, water policy, international water law, and water business.

The University of Wisconsin - Madison is already considered one of the world's premier institutions in groundwater research - some would say the best in the US - others would leave that to the University of Arizona which started PhD programs in hydrology decades ago. Knowing some of the faculty at UW-Madison personally, as well as having worked with UW-Madison alumni, I think UA was passed by them sometime ago.

Why the interest in water in a water-rich area?

"The notion of looking systematically at global water-technology opportunities remains relatively new. Only in recent years have investment banks begun to track the water-technology sector in the same way they follow banking, oil or automakers.


Equally recent is Milwaukee's effort to build a new economic identity centered on water technology.


About three years ago, university and business leaders began drafting a strategy to coax jobs and investment from an indigenous stable of water companies. UWM created a graduate-level School of Freshwater Sciences and is spending tens of millions of dollars on new research facilities and even a water policy think tank. Marquette University launched a curriculum in international water law, and UW-Whitewater has a business curriculum in water.


At stake for Milwaukee is a new toehold in the global economy. According to the report, the world market for water-related equipment is on a scale with the global information technology market ($650 billion in 2010); the mobile-phone market ($600 billion); pharmaceuticals ($450 billion); and telecommunications infrastructure ($300 billion)".

UWM used a federal grant to prepare a report on water markets. The breadth of this report is nothing short of phenomenal, and my unfortunate students are going to wade through this report from cover-to-cover. But let's look at just the geography of opportunities for greywater:

Wyoming - "...the state’s freshwater use per person, per day is 10,000 gallons"...compared to a national average of 827 gallons. Action Needed - Water conservation education, replacement of old plumbing and fixtures, and reuse systems such as grey-water recycling will be needed, to an extent. 

Colorado - Aquifer Depletion - "2009 report by the Colorado Division of Water Resources indicates levels dropping as much as 30 ft/yr near heavily mined areas (such as Castle Rock)". Action Needed - Aggressive incorporation of gray-water systems into legislation (grey water can currently only be used for below-ground uses, such as leach fields)...Increased use of greywater systems to promote conservation and reduce dependency on non-renewable sources. This will involve changes to Colorado’s greywater legislation, which effectively treats greywater and blackwater as one in the same. While greywater technologies are currently available, legal barriers currently obstruct their  mplementation and will continue to do so until such policies are revised (greywater is generally not distinguished from blackwater in state legislation)


Washington - Necessity for Greater Use of Reclaimed Water - Action Needed - Public education about greywater use is needed. There is still aversion to use of such systems with regards to drinking water. Greywater standards may not currently be comprehensive but year-end adoption of the Greywater Reuse Rule should change this.  Technology/Policies Needed - Examples of systems that address water recycling and reuse include greywater reuse and toilet- to-tap.

France - Technology Needs - Cost and energy efficient wastewater plants for small municipalities, Decentralized wastewater treatment systems (septic and clustered), Greywater technology, Rainwater harvesting systems for indoor and outdoor water applications.

United States - Overarching Policy Trends at EPA - "National standards for greywater systems"

Algeria - Technology/Policies Needed - "Technologies such as greywater systems would be helpful but may not be economically feasible for Algeria. Water harvesting on a larger scale makes more sense. Simple, low-cost solutions such as rain barrels for homes could use rainwater for lawn and garden irrigation".

Morocco - Need for Water Reuse - "Morocco needs to consider implementing policies that would encourage greater water reuse and less reliance on conventional sources of water. Increased treatment of wastewater to tertiary or better levels may also be necessary to achieve this goal. Greywater systems should also be considered". 

South Africa - Need for Water Reuse - "Greywater recycling is necessary because South Africa is the 30th driest country, receiving an annual average rainfall of 18 inches, compared to a global average of 34 inches.... However, these systems likely are too expensive for many municipalities and homes to install. Therefore, low-cost, simple alternatives such as rain barrels could still harvest water to use for personal irrigation".

Australia - Technology/Policies Needed - "Desalination plants, greywater systems, and wastewater reuse will be needed to ensure that Australia will have enough water to meet the needs of its growing population".

I live in Oregon which is also located near some big water (Columbia River and Pacific Ocean as opposed to Lake Michigan), but there is nowhere near the vision of connecting water to the future of Oregon's universities or businesses like what we are observing in Wisconsin. And we are located closer to China, too! But maybe The Oregon Idea might make the connection and start reinvesting in higher education in Oregon, especially since Corvallis apparently leads the nation in patented inventions, as it has for more than a decade. Come on, Oregon's universities can match Wisconsin's water programs, too, with a little investment! Check out this locally-designed cool water treatment gadget if you are skeptical.


Tip of the Cheesehead Hat to the State of Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee for their hydrovision.

Maybe they can pick up some of Oregon's Oil in Spragg Bags on their way to China. No *hydroseverance* fee or bottle deposit required.

5 comments:

  1. These are definitely new conservation and maintenance ideas that should be encouraged and welcomed.There sis a need for all the authorities to preserve the water bodies...there is so much contamination that the under water life is hampered.

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