Water Tech Virtual Forum

Hi everyone,

Here’s my attempt at "distilling" the Commitments to Action on Building a Sustainable Water Future and Water Resource Challenges and Technology Innovation documents into usable topics for the Water Tech Virtual Forum. The original documents aren't well organized, so I’ve attempted to “condense” them into a few key themes. This is just a starting place for us to discuss what's missing and what, if anything, to discard.

1. Hardware Technologies
  • Materials with increased surface area and reactivity, that occur at the nanoscale, to increase water availability, improve water delivery and use efficiency and enable next-generation monitoring systems
  • Dry-cooling
  • Sensors (Example: Soil/Plant moisture sensors)
  • Water Desalination – Technologies enabling new sources of water
  • Water Filtration / Remediation
  • Water Security
  • Recycled Water Tech

2. Software / IT

  • Enhanced Data Collection / Economic Analysis
  • Monitoring, Forecasting, Early Warning (Useful for drought, flood, extreme weather, etc.)
  • Sensing
  • Irrigation scheduling
  • Modeling (Flood, Algal Blooms, Crop growth
  • Data sharing, IT-supported collaboration, data synchronization, data visualization, mapping
  • Decision Support Tools (Groundwater extraction optimization, optimized pumping rates, optimized up-time to reduce energy cost, etc.)

3. Behavioral Initiatives

  • Awareness Campaigns
  • Conservation
  • Reduced / Improved Use
  • Water storage / Storm water storage
  • Improved Preparedness
  • Promotion of new investment models and market-based approaches to increase resilience and efficiency

4. Funding Initiatives

  • R&D that reduces the price and energy costs of new water supply technology
  • Early Scale Financing / Economic Development
  • Water Infrastructure (Government-sponsored dams, canals, storage, conveyance)
  • Public-Private Partnerships to leverage federal investment for new projects

5. Innovation Cluster Development (Public Private Partnerships & Incubators)

  • Encouraging collaboration among universities, public and private research centers, entrepreneurs, venture capital firms, manufacturers, and the energy industry (CWII, Confluence, H2OTech etc.)

6. Pilot-Scale Deployment/Demonstration Sites / Test-Beds

  • Larger than lab-scale, smaller than commercial deployment
  • Like User Facilities, but not just at FFRDCs. Also PPPs.


  • edited May 2016

    This is more difficult than I suspected (or maybe we need to make it simpler than it looks).  I spent a lot of time reading the 2 documents from the White House and trying to visualize how to make a framework out of the items listed.  Aaron was correct, those documents really weren’t well-organized for our purposes, but I think he’s captured what’s there in the technical areas (i.e., technical areas like materials, sensors, modeling, storage, reuse, etc.) and put that on a frame consistent with the materials in the documents.

    But as I read it, while the technical items are there, I wonder about the framework – and how we might use it for the virtual forum.  If the idea is to develop sessions around ‘water technologies’ areas so there can be someone (or more than one) talking about that topic (which I assume means discussing issues like technical needs, federal lab capabilities, etc.), then I wonder if there might be another way to ‘frame’ the forum – if in fact that is a goal.  If we don’t really need that kind of structure for the forum, then we probably don’t really need to overthink this.  It just occurred to me during the conversation on Monday that if the concept is to have speakers on various water topics – we needed some theme or topical idea for what we want those speakers to address.  For the purposes of our forum, I’m thinking we don’t really need a speaker on things like funding opportunities or policy issues (just some of the non-technical themes highlighted in the documents).

    There is a lot of material in those documents, but one thing that seemed to pop out from the ‘challenges and opportunities’ document, reinforced in the ‘commitments’ document ad nauseum – with lots of redundancy and overlap and not always easy to tease out – were some higher order categories; like water technologies related to: 1) agriculture, 2) energy, 3) commercial and residential use, 4) municipal water systems, 5) and new sources of water (gets to the desalinization and other technologies).  Just another way of thinking about the wide array of water technology areas (i.e., where we need technical attention). 

    Accordingly, another way to go might be to talk about the technical considerations – and what’s happening in the labs – in the following areas (if possible):

    Water and Agriculture

    Water and Energy

    Water and Commercial Uses

    Water and Residential Uses

    Water and Municipal Systems

    New Sources of Water


    Just a thought.  As noted, I think Aaron's initial take covers the same ground, this is just a different way to think about it.  Finally, my expertise on water technologies begins and ends pretty much with these documents.  We might want someone that works in these areas to chime in on this approach.



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