We all can do our part for the planet

Wastewater Recycling to Increase by 37% by 2027


The general water supply has become a huge problem lately, so more and more investments are being targeted towards new water reuse or wastewater solutions. According to a new report issued by Bluefield Research, estimates show that expenditure for alternative capacity solutions in the municipal water sector in the U.S. will exceed $2.1 billion in the upcoming decade. 

According to Bluefield Research Director, Erin Bonney Casey water reuse solutions have become the prime focus for the US municipal utilities.  In fact, the municipal utilities are constantly looking for alternative options and strategies that would save the existing supplies of water. The director also points out that Bluefield Research has been monitoring about 247 water reuse projects in 11 US states in 2015. By this year, the number of these projects increased dramatically, from 247 to 775 across 19 US states. 

Florida, Texas, and California represent the core players regarding reuse activity. Even though the state of California saw a huge increase of rainfalls last year, the utilities have still gone further by adding 6.0 million m3/d of innovative water reuse facilities and supplies. Bluefield Research estimates that utilities will add supplies of potable water exceeding 2.2 million m3/d in the upcoming 10 years, especially in urban areas of the US. 

Bonney Casey further highlights the importance of a powerful potable reuse policy. California regulators seem to be the leaders in adopting such a strong policy, which will basically serve as a role model for all other states. Municipal reuse investments will likely increase by 15% in the upcoming decade, and water reuse solutions will represent a very important opportunity for growth across many sectors.  In the upcoming 10 years, the greatest majority of Capital Expenditure intended for reuse will be redirected towards pipes strategies (up to 42%), while the remainder will go towards engineering & design or advanced treatment solutions. 
The general market request for potable water solutions is quite high. Even more so, both national and foreign investors see advanced systems as the best opportunities for growth. It seems that the increased request for potable solutions, together with market growth is most beneficial to companies offering advanced technological solutions such as osmosis or bioreactor systems. 

Recycled wastewater usage was limited to uses in agriculture, golfing or green spaces. Today, wastewater seems to be present across many industrial applications and fields, such as data centers, for toilet/cooling systems in commercial spaces, or even in craft breweries. The future of reclaimed wastewater is not limited to use in municipal utilities, but treated wastewater will become precious in settings such as oil refineries, gas companies, power plants and more. 

Interested in learning more about innovative alternative wastewater treatment and reuse technologies? Contact us today. 

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Laura Irwin: 4-H Alumni Spotlight

It was never a question of if Laura Irwin of Hartland would join 4-H, but rather, when she would become a 4-H member. “My mom always wanted to be a 4-H member, and never had the opportunity,” Laura recalls. “So, she made sure her children did. I joined when I was 7-years old, and I’m still a volunteer and junior advisor for the Hartford County 4-H Fair Board.

Laura was a member of the Granby 4-H Club, and quickly seized every opportunity offered. She started riding horses when she was 8 years old, and then developed a 4-H goat project when she was 12. At age 16, she began a beef cattle project, and then swine came after that. Laura’s beef and swine projects were through the Gilbert family of North Granby, longtime 4-H volunteers. She also volunteered with the Hemlock Knoll 4-H Club.

Laura always tries to maintain a positive attitude, and you quickly realize this while talking to her. She handled the increasing responsibility and challenges of multiple 4-H projects with the same poise, determination, and professionalism that she demonstrates on a daily basis.

As a 4-H member, Laura came to UConn for Goat Day, and also visited the Greater Hartford campus for fashion review and other 4-H events. When considering colleges, Laura applied to UConn, Delaware Valley, and Colorado State, but never planned to go anywhere besides UConn. “I completed my first two years at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield,” she says. “It offers a competitive financial aid package and I was able to participate in the gap program, and then transfer to UConn with all of my general education courses completed.”

Laura is a junior majoring in Pathobiology, graduating in 2019. She wants to double major in Animal Science and become a large animal veterinarian. “If I don’t become a veterinarian, I will complete a graduate program at UConn, focusing on research and becoming a pathobiologist, I’m already exploring work-study options in this field.”

Her experience in 4-H has enhanced her course work here at UConn. Material being covered in Introduction to Animal Science, Genetics, Pathobiology, and Physics courses is all an extension of the knowledge she gained through her 4-H career.

This fall, Laura competed in the Little International Livestock Show at UConn that is organized by the Block and Bridle Club in the Department of Animal Science. She showed a sheep, and won premier showmanship. “I credit 4-H for the win in Premier Showmanship at the Little International,” Laura says. “I never would have had the knowledge and skills without 4-H.”

Earning the respect of her riding instructor and having her 4-H project work come full circle were the most rewarding parts of 4-H for Laura. She began taking lessons with Lisa Dinsmore when she was 8-years old, and now Lisa looks at Laura as a knowledgeable horse person, and an equal.

Laura worked with her Hereford beef cow and calf every morning during her last year in 4-H and was Reserve Grand Champion Showman of Goshen Fair in 2015. Laura was able to see her calf grow up, have her own calf, and Reserve Grand Champion in the Cow-Calf class at the highly competitive Big E. The calf represents the third generation of Laura’s 4-H project work with that beef cow family.

In 2015, the Hartford County 4-H Fair advisors selected Laura as the Louis Kristopik Award winner at the 4-H Fair. The award recognizes a youth member who takes initiative, demonstrates leadership, and the ability to work as a member of the team. “It meant a lot that they picked me out of all the 4-H youth members because everyone is equally deserving,” Laura says. “If you receive the award you know you’ve done an excellent job.”

Laura began playing the piano when she was 6-years old, and knows many pieces by memory. “Music was my passion before 4-H,” she says. “I have a deeper understanding of poetry and lyrics of music. It’s still one of the pathways I use to connect with my brother.”

“I enjoy working with youth, especially those with special needs,” Laura mentions. “I want to stay involved with 4-H and help other youth gain the confidence to speak up for themselves. If you don’t have your own voice, what do you have?”

By Stacey Stearns

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Lifelong Learning Classes in December

string group

CLIR, a lifelong learning program offered in collaboration with UConn Extension, will hold the following classes in December, all in Vernon Cottage on UConn’s Depot Campus.

Tuesday Dec 5  Origins, Measurement, and Management of Stress and Anxiety    1:15 – 2:45

Wednesday Dec 6  Medical Marijuana and Cancer:  What’s the Evidence?       1:15 – 2:45

Thursdays, Dec 7 and 14     Memoir Club                   10:15 – 11:45

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Stronger together? Reflections on an 11-year journey through water reform

The year is 2006, the scene is Honduras. As an enthusiastic new team member of a World Bank water sector reform project, I am trying to participate in the high-level discussions around decentralization and local government empowerment in the provision of water and sanitation services in my (then) broken Spanish. Coming from Switzerland, a small country with thousands of local service providers, I am convinced a bottom-up approach to service delivery is THE solution. Hasn’t the hugely influential 2004 World Development Report argued for exactly that – shortening the accountability route between customers and service providers? We are the champions of local, elected mayors, who want nothing more than to prove they could deliver better than the central government’s utility.

It’s now 2010 and I’m still in Honduras, now amid the reform implementation when reality kicks in. Three new municipal utilities have been established, with catchy logos and new staff and management. Operating costs, salaries in particular, have been slashed, and there’s a sense of opportunity – but also challenges. Those elected mayors are thinking about the next election and not very keen on adjusting tariffs to where they need to be. Installing water meters, a cornerstone of the modernization strategy, is facing a huge backlash from those very customers who are making direct use of the shorter accountability route to make their concerns heard. And services aren’t really getting better as fast as we would want…

Forward to 2014 – I’m now in Croatia. I’m sitting in a non-descript conference hall in Zagreb, Croatia, trying to inform a diverse set of local and central government stakeholders about the pros and cons of merging municipal water utilities into regional operators, as everyone else seems to be doing in the region. In fact, since my transition to Europe & Central Asia the year before, I observe what appears to be a serious case of reformitis: consultants and policy advisors are dutifully preaching the regionalization of just recently decentralized service providers to help implement the European Union’s stringent and costly environmental regulations.

Here in Zagreb though, the meeting is not going all that well. The reform that is on the table means a lot of change for local actors. Mayors are concerned about losing power. Utility managers are concerned about losing their job. And customer representatives are concerned about losing their direct route to the decision makers. But a solid economic study financed by another Bank project has shown this is the only way Croatia can carry the technical and financial burden of complying with the famous European Environmental Acquis Communautaire, and so the team is trying to promote a sector reform that goes pretty much in the opposite direction of Honduras’… Ultimately, the Croatia reform didn’t happen; but a number of other countries around the region are moving forward on a similar path, with varying degrees of success. By then, I am leading the Danube Water Program, a regional policy advice facility, and I struggle with reconciling those contradicting trends – decentralization here, aggregation there, and my home country’s “small is beautiful” vs. the “bigger is better” of the region’s policy buffs. Facing a policy challenge, I decide to seek out the best available evidence by launching a study, with support from the Government of Austria.

We start by looking at what others have said on the topic, and in particular the Bank’s own, seminal piece on utility aggregation. We quickly realize the issue is both larger and less defined than we thought. Everyone seems to have studied economies of scale in the water sector – but far fewer have looked whether those will materialize when utilities joining together, so we feel the need to cast the web wider than we initially imagined. We look at the Merger and Acquisition literature, at the work of our colleagues in electricity and local government sectors. One thing leads to another, and we eventually manage to secure enough resources to expand to a global review covering 14 case studies and 1300 utility companies worldwide. More importantly, colleagues and practitioners tell us what they really need is concrete, pragmatic advice rather than another academic study. That was good advice and I took it to heart.

It’s now 2017 and I’m in Washington DC at the latest leg of my journey. Just a few days ago the World Bank’s Water Global Practice launched a toolkit and background report that explores why, when and how water utilities can work together to provide better services. This is the culmination of a years-long team effort and, for me, a particular satisfaction to have even more evidence to inform our policy advice on the matter. As often, the conclusions are more nuanced than my (and many of my colleagues’) Cartesian mind would like. The success of an aggregation depends very much on your starting point and what you are trying to achieve, and so you really need to think about those two points as you design your reform process…. But I don’t want to give all the insights away – check out the toolkit, discover the case studies, listen to the interviews and read the report if you want to know more!

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When purchasing a new water tank, it’s important to remember that the fabrics used to build your water tank are just as important as the water it stores! Many people just don’t do the research. This is problematic because it means that Australian families are drinking water from low-quality tanks built with imported industrial-grade fabrics.

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When purchasing a new water tank, it’s important to remember that the fabrics used to build your water tank are just as important as the water it stores! Many people just don’t do the research. This is problematic because it means that Australian families are drinking water from low-quality tanks built with imported industrial-grade fabrics.

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When purchasing a new water tank, it’s important to remember that the fabrics used to build your water tank are just as important as the water it stores! Many people just don’t do the research. This is problematic because it means that Australian families are drinking water from low-quality tanks built with imported industrial-grade fabrics.

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Are you looking to purchase a new water tank? If so, you’re likely feeling overwhelmed by all the products available and the exaggerated marketing that goes along with them. So, let me make things a little easier for you – here’s exactly what NOT to buy! First and foremost, the health of you and your

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New Farmers Offered a Blizzard of Training Options in Winter 2017-18

growing crops in tunnel

Photo: Charlotte Ross

The Solid Ground Farmer Training program kicks off its second season this month. This program will deliver over 30 trainings designed for new and beginning farmers from December 2017 to March 2018. Current and aspiring farmers are welcome to attend as many free trainings as they like, many of which are led by Connecticut farmers. Training topics include Financial Record Keeping for Farm Businesses, Vegetable Production for Small Farms, Growing Crops in Low and High Tunnels, Finding Your Market, Eco-Focused Farming Practices, Cover Cropping, and many more. Last year the program reached over 300 new growers in the state!

Funded through the USDA Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program, these trainings are coordinated by UConn Extension and are designed to provide a solid foundation of knowledge on which new farmers can establish and grow their farm businesses. Come learn about tried and true methods as well as brand-new techniques from seasoned farmers, Extension specialists, and professional consultants.

Trainings are free and take place around the state at agriculture partner organizations in Bridgeport, Hartford, Killingly, Windham, Bethel, New Haven, and Simsbury, making them accessible to farmers state-wide.

In addition to winter trainings, the Solid Ground Program also offers one-on-one consultations with

tunnels on a farm

Photo: Charlotte Ross

specialists in the areas of Farm Finance, Soil Health, and Vegetable Production. The Agricultural Re$ource Fair, another piece of the program, takes place in early February and brings together Farmers and agricultural service providers for meaningful presentations around funding for farmers on both the state and national level.

The full calendar of trainings is listed on our Solid Ground webpage: newfarms.extension.uconn.edu/solidground

Please contact Charlotte Ross (charlotte.ross@uconn.edu) and Chelsey Hahn (chelsey.solidground@gmail.com) with questions and to RSVP!

UConn Extension works in all 169 towns of Connecticut with a network of over 100 educators and scientists. Over 2,900 volunteers leverage the ability of Extension to work in every community.

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Game-changing water solutions for the Middle East and North Africa

Women collecting water in  Al-Minsalah district, Haddjah province, Yemen.
Photo: ECHO/T. Deherman

Also available in  العربية

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has become a hotspot of unsustainable water use, with more than half of current water withdrawals in some countries exceeding the amount naturally available. This could have serious long-term consequences for the region’s growth and stability. Solutions for narrowing the gap between the supply of and demand for water are an urgent priority.
As the Fourth Arab Water Forum gets underway next week in Cairo, Egypt, much is at stake in the region’s water management. Armed conflict and massive numbers of refugees have put tremendous additional stress on land and water resources in MENA as well as on infrastructure in communities receiving the refugees. In Jordan alone, according to the country’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, climate change and the refugee crisis have reduced water availability per person to 140 cubic meters, far below the globally recognized threshold of 500 cubic meters for severe water scarcity.

These recent developments compound the impact of decades of rapid population growth, urbanization and agricultural intensification. A recent World Bank report notes that more than 60% of the region’s population is concentrated in places affected by high or very high surface water stress, compared to a global average of about 35%. The report further warns that climate-related water scarcity is expected to cause economic losses estimated at 6-14% of GDP by 2050 – the highest in the world.
As governments search for solutions, two trends in particular could present game-changing opportunities to bolster water security. As captured in two recent reports by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the viability of these solutions will depend on how governments and societies respond to them.
The promise and perils of solar-powered agriculture
One trend is the rapid roll out of solar-powered irrigation in some countries, with the triple aim of strengthening water, energy and food security. Morocco, for example, expects to install more than 100,000 solar pumps by 2020. Similarly, Egypt is implementing a program of desert agriculture, involving the irrigation of 630,000 hectares with solar technology. Other countries are embarking on such ventures as well, taking advantage of lower costs for solar technology and the region’s high solar radiation. Such initiatives will replace polluting and expensive diesel pumps, and offer a new option to farmers who lack access to energy grids. Reductions in traditional fuel subsidies strengthen the incentive for shifting to the use of solar and other renewable energy sources.
Governments hope that solar technology will offer a way for farming communities to leapfrog from chronic vulnerability toward resilient and sustainable intensification of production. The option has a downside, however, stemming from inadequate understanding and poor regulation of groundwater. These shortcomings, by permitting groundwater overexploitation, have caused water tables to fall, making it more expensive to pump from greater depths, while also creating problems such as soil salinity. Solar-powered irrigation could make matters worse by permitting the extraction of more groundwater at lower cost, impacting vulnerable rural communities with poor access to water resources.
Innovative monitoring technologies (such as remotely controlled pumps and smart water meters) could help address some of the challenges. Moreover, as is already happening in Jordan, experts can use remote sensing techniques to help governments control the expansion of groundwater-based irrigation.
Tapping the only increasing natural resource
A second trend centers on wastewater, 82% of which is not being recycled in the region, compared to just 30% in high-income countries. This presents a major threat to human and environmental health but also a massive opportunity to better satisfy water demand. Wastewater is the only natural resource that increases as cities and populations grow. Countries in the MENA region already generate 18.4 cubic kilometers of municipal wastewater per year.
Many technologies are available to treat and reuse wastewater for productive purposes, including forestry, agriculture, landscaping, and aquifer recharge. The uptake of these options has so far been slow, however, because of rigid regulations and a policy disconnect between the agricultural, sanitation and other sectors. When reuse projects do get underway, the lack of appropriate tariffs and economic incentives undermine their sustainability by making it difficult for them to recover the costs of wastewater treatment. Key considerations going forward are the selection of crops best suited for irrigation with reused water and measures for addressing specific health concerns.
MENA has much to gain from efforts to overcome these barriers. With appropriate treatment, wastewater has the potential to provide irrigation and fertilizer for more than 2 million hectares of agricultural land. This would contribute to the conservation of freshwater, making more available for domestic use and a wide variety of productive purposes. Jordan’s success in harnessing private sector technological innovation and financing to recycle wastewater offers an especially instructive case. Such technologies, reinforced by new policies, could help put MENA on course toward water security. This will require commitment at all levels of society to address cultural barriers impeding change in water use, bridge institutional and policy divisions, and revise overly stringent regulations.
Turning threats into opportunities
Solutions to the growing problem of water scarcity are within reach. The challenge is to accelerate the development and spread of innovation for sustainable water management. This, in turn, requires a new “water consciousness,” as noted in Beyond Water Scarcity, which recognizes that everyone – from individual farmers and consumers to businesses and public agencies – has a responsibility to overcome water scarcity.
Participants in the Arab Water Forum will hear a lot about such innovations in water management. The challenge will be to build momentum behind solutions that can make a difference.

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