2016 FLC Water Forum Proceedings

The FLC used the White House Water Summit event on March 22, 2016, as a springboard to dive into the Tech Focus water initiative. Severe droughts in the West, flooding in the Southeast, and the water-quality crisis in Flint, Michigan, caught the attention of policy makers and were major focal points during the Summit. The Goal 3: Strategically Supporting National Policy issues and potential solutions discussed trickled down to agencies and their federal laboratories.

The FLC realized that the scientific and technological resources developed at federal laboratories offered applicable resolutions to water sustainability and infrastructure problems occurring throughout the country. In response to the Summit, the FLC partnered with The Water Council and held the Water Innovation Virtual Forum (WIVF) to promote the Tech Focus initiative, promote federally developed water technologies, and shine an external spotlight on the water-related issues that affect so many.

Eager to bring known water issues to the forefront of the science and technology community, the FLC and The Water Council featured expert speakers, policy makers, and scientists who showcased water-relevant research and development, and ready to-license technologies at the one-day online WIVF event. Through the forum, the FLC hoped to show that with collaborative efforts and federal technologies, the T2 process can contribute to addressing global issues such as water sustainability.

WIVF comprised four session topics: drinking water, watershed management, water availability and water treatment, and a keynote address by Dr. Bruce Rodan, former Assistant Director, Environmental Health, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The Water Council also shared its mission and introduced attendees to its Innovation Commercialization Exchange (ICE) program, an initiative that collects, evaluates, and connects emerging water technologies that can provide viable solutions to various industries.

An overview of the meeting’s distinguished speakers and agenda includes the following:

Keynote Address

Dr. Bruce Rodan, former Assistant Director, Environmental Health, OTSP spoke on behalf of the OSTP and offered its outlook on the importance of addressing water issues by forging alliances between the public and private sectors, and exploring promising water technologies.

Drinking Water Session

Dr. Peter C. Grevatt, Director of the EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW), discussed the current state of our nation’s drinking water infrastructure and delivery, as well as water system operations, maintenance, and security (physical/cyber); and drinking water contamination treatment strategies. Speakers from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and the Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility also delivered their thoughts on the work their organizations are doing to address water drinking issues.

Watershed Management Session

Dr. Philip Hoffman, Deputy Director of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, NOAA, moderated session speakers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the University of Maryland, who discussed current practices and technologies used for watershed management in the areas of flood control, runoff, storm water, nutrient control, and water quality. Speakers also delved into technology need areas where current practices can be improved with the help of water industry insights and partnerships.

Water Availability Session

Water availability and sustainability experts from the USGS and USDA, and representatives from Hazen and Sawyer—a renowned engineering firm committed to providing safe drinking water, as well as controlling pollution and its effects on the environment—shared their perspectives on agricultural production and irrigation. Speakers also explained how the use of water sensor technologies can help farmers efficiently conserve water during periods of drought, and the collaborative work that these agencies are conducting through the National Drought Resilience

Partnership Water Treatment Session

In this final session of the Forum, discussions covered strategy on water treatment topics such as water reuse and reclamation, alternative sources (e.g., brackish water), and wastewater treatment. Sally Gutierrez, the EPA’s Director of Environmental Technology Innovation Cluster Development and Support Program, led the discussion on these important topics and ideas for improving current practices through the introduction of new technologies. Water and environmental health consultant representatives from private firms and the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation joined Gutierrez in the session.

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