Can a Social Networking Site Start a Water Revolution?

By Jan Dell, CH2M HILL Vice President, Energy and Water Division

It is no secret that water scarcity and resulting impacts to people, ecosystems and businesses around the world is one of the most significant issues facing our world today, and that population growth is increasing the number of water-stressed areas around the world. There is a real, critical need to conserve and better manage the limited water resources on our planet. Water reuse is a proven, effective way to do this, benefitting our communities, companies and the environment, yet reuse rates are low.

In order to promote water reuse and help municipalities, industries and agriculture find each other and collaborate to converse fresh water and promote community and economic development, CH2M HILL has created WaterMatch. WaterMatch is a grassroots, goodwill initiative that harnesses the power of social networking to promote the beneficial reuse of municipal effluent for industrial and agricultural use at the local level.

The website uses social networking and geospatial mapping to connect water generators with water users. Once online, water users will use the WaterMatch Map to find wastewater treatment plants close to their current and potential future operations and then use the social networking function to connect with the utilities operating those plants. The website is designed to help communities and companies meet and then take action on water. When action is taken, progress is made.

We held the global launch of WaterMatch at WEFTEC on Tuesday. A large crowd joined me and Bob Bailey, CH2M HILL Water Business Group President, to hear from WaterMatch supporters who understand the importance of water reuse and are just as excited as we are that WaterMatch could enable local action on a global basis.

Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District (CMSD) Deputy Director Biju George is hoping WaterMatch will help make matches happen for their community. In a brownfield redevelopment effort in the MetroWest Commerce Park, CMSD has  a large area planned for industry with access to high quality effluent for industrial use from the nearby water reclamation facility. All the site needs now is the industry to come.  

“We have 50 million gallons per day of high quality water available at this site. We invite industries to explore this opportunity,” said Biju George at the launch.

Jon Freedman, World Business Council of Sustainable Development Representative and GE Power and Water, Global Leader, Government Relations, shared, “We are convinced that water reuse is key to future sustainable water management. We support WaterMatch to help overcome informational barriers to creating public-private partnerships.”

Water Environment Federation Technical Director, Dr. Eileen O’Neill, American Water Intelligence Reporter Eric Heiner, IPIECA Water Task Force Leader Karl Fennessey, West Basin Municipal Utility District Manager of Business Development and Regulatory Affairs Joe Walters, and ConocoPhillips Director of Doha Water Sustainability Center Dr. Samer Adham also participated in the launch.

The enthusiastic response we’ve gotten from municipalities and industry alike has me convinced that the time is right to start a grassroots water reuse revolution. We’re looking forward to the coming months—seeing more municipalities add their information, industries sign up for the site and seeing the matches happen. Our motive is simple: to promote beneficial water reuse around the world today. We hope that you will join us and help make matches happen, because no water should be wasted.

Get started with WaterMatch today by watching the short introductory video below and visiting www.ch2mhill.com/watermatch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBLcJhFLzHc

Ms. Dell leads global industry initiatives in the Energy and Water Sectors. Ms. Dell is a chemical engineer with over 20 years of global experience extending across more than 40 countries including China, Canada, the Middle East and other regions with energy resource 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 has led collaborative energy industry initiatives on adaptation to climate change and is 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 is currently leading the multi-industry development of the GEMI Local Water Tool to enable companies to effectively manage water issues at the local level. Ms. Dell is a Board Member of the World Environment Center.

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