Sustainable water resources, aging infrastructure, emerging contaminants and simultaneous compliance were just a few of the topics highlighted at the Opening General Session of the American Water Works Association’s Water Quality Technology Conference & Exposition (WQTC) at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colo.
Sally Gutierrez, national risk management research laboratory director for the U.S. EPA, discussed the importance of addressing challenges to sustainable water resources management, including population growth, urbanization, water scarcity and climate change.
“Sustainability of water resources is a global issue with tremendous challenges,” Gutierrez told a standing-room only crowd. “It’s important we look at those challenges to ensure the greatest possibility for future generations to enjoy clean drinking water.”
Gutierrez outlined the practical challenges facing water utilities today, including more stringent regulations, emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure and security concerns. She also discussed EPA’s interest in emerging contaminants like perchlorate and endocrine disruptors.
Robert Renner, executive director of the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF), echoed those challenges, highlighting the need for cooperation among research organizations in the water industry.
“There are myriad issues facing water utilities and limited resources with which to research them,” Renner said. “AwwaRF works with U.S. EPA and the many other water research organizations out there to ensure that the important topics are covered without duplicating research.”
According to Renner, shifting population demographics, increasing water use, global warming, alternative water resources, finances and infrastructure replacement, increasing regulations and increasing energy costs are the issues that will shape the future of water utilities. Ongoing important research topics for AwwaRF include the human impact of endocrine disruptors, desalination, online monitoring techniques and energy efficiency.