By Jan Dell, CH2M HILL Vice President
At CH2M HILL, there are many ways that sentence can be finished. From the iconic Panama Canal Expansion to the New York Department of Environmental Protection’s Catskill-Delaware Ultraviolet Disinfection Facility, we work on epic projects that fill a vital need for business, communities and the environment.
We’re now working to help solve growing global water challenges by building the world’s largest map of new water resources. This new water resource is municipal effluent—which is ironically often called wastewater. Reuse of wastewater is critical to meeting the growing needs of people without damaging ecosystems. But to use it, it must be easily found by those who need it. Maps of water in rivers, lakes, oceans and underground exist, but we’re the first to map wastewater resources.
My hope is that many of you are now familiar with CH2M HILL’s WaterMatch— our grassroots, goodwill initiative that uses the power of social networking and GIS mapping to promote the beneficial reuse of municipal effluent for energy, industrial and agricultural use at the local level. Since we launched WaterMatch in late 2011, we’ve learned from talking with corporations, municipalities, and governments that WaterMatch has become a unique portal for viewing wastewater treatment plants as valuable resources for water, renewable energy and nutrients. Last week, the Texas Water Conservation Advisory Council warmly welcomed WaterMatch to help promote water reuse in their state which is facing both drought and growth in population and energy production.
With the help of collaborating partners like Intel, ConocoPhillips and Arizona State University, we’ve added over 21,000 new sources of water (wastewater treatment plants) to the WaterMatch map in 45 countries. We‘ve also partnered with the global network Net Impact to reach university students around the world to get their help in mapping new water resources in their communities.
Speaking of Intel and big things, they have the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturing facilities. Intel has long been a leader in sustainable water management and joined our WaterMatch collaboration last year. As Gary Niekerk, Corporate Citizenship Director at Intel, has shared, “Improving water sustainable where we operate is good for the community, and good for Intel’s long-term business objections. We believe WaterMatch is an example of how information technology can help address sustainable challenges.”
On January 29, Gary and I presented at the Water Reuse Tech Summit in San Diego, California, discussing Intel’s reuse activities and advocacy, and its collaboration with WaterMatch. Their partnership with the City of Chandler, Arizona to implement a progressive water management system has reduced Intel Arizona’s water demand by up to 75%, saving approximately 1.8 billion gallons of water per year compared to historical water usage at the campus. Reuse of effluent from the City of Chandler’s wastewater treatment plant provides more than 95% of cooling tower water needs and 100% of irrigation water. This is a great (and big!) example of the tremendous benefits that making “water matches” can bring.
Intel has been collaborating with WaterMatch and the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) and Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University to populate the WaterMatch mapping map in Arizona and to conduct research into the uses and benefits of WaterMatch as well as opportunities and barriers to water reuse across the state, including conducting interviews and holding workshops with wastewater producers, potential users, and key stakeholders on WaterMatch. With Intel and ASU’s support we were able to pilot the now live WaterMatch Makers University Program, and more than 130 facilities in Arizona have already been identified and added through the project. They have also established a Research Frontiers in Water Reuse Forum comprised of water users and prominent decision makers in the seven Colorado River Basin states to take these discussions beyond Arizona.
I encourage you to read Gary’s great blog about water reuse and the Water Reuse Tech Summit too.
Where does your wastewater go? Take a look at the WaterMatch map and look for the wastewater treatment plant in your area. Send us a note to add your water drop if it’s not there. We hope that you will join us, map new water resources and help make matches happen. Because no water should be wasted.
Ms. Dell leads global industry initiatives in the Energy, Water and Climate issues and is chemical engineer with more than 25 years of experience extending across more than 40 countries including China, Canada, the Middle East and other regions with energy resources and water supply constraints. She has worked with global companies in the oil and gas, power, chemical, manufacturing, food, beverage, footwear, apparel, and entertainment industries to develop major projects and implement sustainable business practices in their business operations, their communities and their supply chains. Ms. Dell a member of the National Climate Assessment Federal Advisory Committee. Ms Dell led the creation of the WBCSD Global Water Tool and the sector tools for Oil and Gas and Power Utilities which have been used by hundreds of companies to measure their water usage and map their risks on a global level. Ms. Dell led the multi-industry development of the GEMI Local Water Tool to enable companies to effectively manage water issues at the local level.