“The Foundation's studies are so commonly
used that they have become standard
tools at our utility and hundreds of others
around the country as the starting point
for solving a problem,” said David Rager,
director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works
and chairman of the Foundation’s Board
Driving Best Practices
Because our research is recognized as
objective and scientifically credible, it can
provide a “seal of approval” for emerging
technologies or novel applications. In
many cases, our studies have provided the
data needed to give water suppliers the
confidence to implement cutting-edge
technologies and procedures that have
changed the way water utilities operate.
For instance, our pioneering research on
membranes showed they can be used cost-effectively to enhance conventional water
treatment, as an alternative to conventional
treatment and for desalination, paving the
way for broad U.S. acceptance.
“Our role is not to lobby or advocate a
certain position; our job is to conduct
scientific research and let the facts speak for
themselves,” Renner said.
The Foundation collaborates with
regulators, scientists, and utilities to share
knowledge, transfer technologies, and
leverage research funds and expertise.
U.S. partners include the USEPA, Centers
for Disease Control, U.S. Department of
Energy, and Electric Power and Research
Institute (EPRI). International partners
represent nations as widespread as Canada,
the United Kingdom, the Netherlands,
France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, South
Africa, Australia, Singapore, and Japan.
Still, despite our efforts to share knowledge,
we have identified $30 million in critical
and timely research that remains unfunded.
These studies, which include topics ranging
from planning water, wastewater, and storm
water systems, to source water protection
strategies addressing endocrine disruptors
and pharmaceuticals, to studying the
impacts of desalination on aquatic life and
the environment, represent only a small
part of the gap between research needs
and available funding.
We expect future research needs to increase,
and we will keep pushing for greater funding.
Because of climate change, utilities will
need information on how to better manage
scarce resources. Conversely, water utilities
in warmer, wetter climates will need tools
to handle emerging contaminants and
In addition, “there is no zero anymore,”
Renner said. “Advances in measurement
technologies mean we will detect
contaminants at ever smaller
concentrations, sparking debate
over treatment, safe levels, and the
investments that they will entail.”
Amidst these challenges, the Foundation
remains steadfast in its mission to advance
the science of water.
“That’s why people come to work every
day,” Renner said. “We all feel that the most
important thing we do is to do what’s right
for the public and the environment.”