Webinar summary: Advancing a circular economy in water reuse

July 16, 2015

Wastewater is an opportunity, not a byproduct.

On Wednesday, June 15, Dow Water & Process’ Water Academy presented "Advancing a circular economy in water reuse." In this informative webinar, Tracy Young (senior associate R&D director, Growth Technologies for Dow Water & Process Solutions) echoed the sentiments expressed during the opening session of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exhibition — the Earth’s water is one resource and should be treated as such. Water needs to be protected, and every water source should be used, particularly during droughts and in other water-scarce areas. From residential use to manufacturing, water is an essential resource.

According to Young, the population, which will increase to 8.3 billion by 2030, will need 30 percent more water, 50 percent more food and 40 percent more energy. To aid in meeting these growing needs, Dow has developed a sustainability plan to provide the technology required to produce the energy and food, to source the water and to treat the water. However, this technology and other manufacturers and end users must partner to ensure that the tools and plans are in place to support and provide these requirements. The goals Dow plans to have in place by 2025 are:

  • Leading the blueprint to integrate public policy, science and technology, and value chain innovation for the transition
  • Delivering sustainable chemistry innovation
  • Advancing the circular economy by closing the loop on water, enabling the use of recycled water and water reuse
  • Valuing nature by delivering solutions that are good for ecosystems
  • Increasing confidence in the safe use of chemical technology
  • Engaging employees for impact
  • Ensuring its own operations and performance in natural resource efficiency, the environment, and health and safety

The goal of the second bullet point, closing the loop on water, was the focus of this webinar. The requirement for the water industry as a whole is to collaborate at all levels to use water wisely. In Dow’s role, it will continue to provide water treatment solutions to "minimize fresh water intake; enable the use of others’ wastewater; and develop new sources of clean, potable water."

Water is viewed by industrial operators as a key risk to their processes and supply chains, according to Young. Some potential concerns are that quality and scarcity impact production, affect products’ value and industries are often scrutinized more heavily regarding their impacts on the water cycle. One way that industries and the population as a whole can improve our current and future world of water is to treat wastewater as a valuable resource and not a byproduct. Industrial and other wastewater can be treated and reused as non-potable, irrigation or industrial makeup water. Some wastewater can even be treated to potable levels. Efficient use, reuse/recycling and alternate sources are required to enable future water solutions.

Unfortunately, private and public barriers to acceptance and adoption exist. According to Young, these are:

  • Undervaluing water
  • Regulatory barriers
  • Public perception
  • New technology adoption

The industrial, municipal and private (residential) sectors must come together. As AWWA CEO David LaFrance said during the 2015 opening session, the industry has to focus on total water solutions and stop feeling that segment is alone in water. All groups must partner to provide the world’s population with its most valuable resource: clean water.

For more information on this webinar and Dow Water and Process, visit the website.

For more information on or to join AWWA, click here.

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