Water-Related Trade Group Formed to Enact CMU Recommendations

Sep 27, 2012

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has released a report that makes suggestions on how southwestern Pennsylvania could resolve issues regarding the region's water supplies, like stormwater management and river navigation. At a news conference Thursday morning, a new water-related trade group was announced in order to take on those recommendations.

The Water Economy Network will bring together local water-related businesses in part to tackle the proposals in CMU's report. The document, called "Sustainable Water Innovation Initiative for Southwestern Pennsylvania," has suggestions on how to resolve issues related to navigation, stormwater, drinking water, and water management in energy development.

For example, report co-author Jeanne Van Briesen of the CMU Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering said one recommendation calls for a new center to evaluate different methods of purifying wastewater produced during oil and gas development.

"That would have value, not just in this region, where we're seeing a significant increase in that kind of water, but in other regions of the country and the world," said Van Briesen. "In Texas, in Colorado, in the Middle East, where a lot of these produced waters have been coming up out of the ground for a very long time."

Another recommendation of the report is to set up guidelines suggesting where local water authorities should place green infrastructure for stormwater management.

"Locations that have a lot of built-up environment, those are the places where, if you can slow down the stormwater and intercept it before it gets to the sewer systems, you can have a bigger impact than say, in an area that's predominantly farmland or where there's much less macadam," said Van Briesen.

She said one of the navigation improvement projects proposed by the CMU is already getting underway.

"[We're] putting sensing on our bridges and our locks and dams, and monitoring in real-time the data that comes back from those infrastructure resources," said Van Briesen.

While the projects must be ordered by local water authorities like the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), an organizer of the Water Economy Network (WEN) said he hopes the new trade group will be able to call its members' attention to contract opportunities.