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August 27, 2012

Going with the Flow: Social Network Provides 'Used' Water to Farms, Industry



If you live in a major city, you may already be familiar with the concepts of car-sharing, bike-sharing, and parking space-sharing. However, chances are that you haven’t heard about WaterMatch—an online, grassroots initiative that has been promoting the reuse of municipal effluent for industrial and agricultural purposes since 2011.

CH2M Hill, a construction management and design firm located in Englewood, Colorado, developed WaterMatch as a free website that uses social networking and geospatial mapping to connect organizations that use water with those that are in need of it—and are not too fussy about the form in which it arrives.

And not a moment too soon, as the effects of record-breaking droughts and heat waves reduce the levels of reservoirs and rivers worldwide.

Response to the program has been so positive that CH2M Hill is actively expanding the program to serve more users. 

“We are expanding WaterMatch and the grassroots water reuse revolution to promote progress through partnerships and projects on the ground,” said Jan Dell (News - Alert), vice president at CH2M Hill. “We invite companies, municipalities and universities to join us in this effort.”

To date, the WaterMatch site has more attracted than 21,000 potential water reuse sources and is growing daily. Now, two organizations have come forward to find new program participants.

Phoenix-based Arizona State University (ASU) and Silicon Valley-based Intel (News - Alert) are working with municipalities in Arizona and the U.S. Southwest to populate the WaterMatch map and associated wastewater treatment plant profiles. They also are conducting research into the uses and benefits of WaterMatch.

“Sustainable water management is a key focus at [our company],” said Gary Niekerk, director of Corporate Citizenship at Intel. “We created the external collaboration with CH2M Hill‘s WaterMatch, ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and ASU’s Decision Center for a Desert City to increase water sustainability.” Niekerk added that Intel believes that technology can play an important role in addressing the world’s sustainability challenges.

The university program will leverage learnings from successful pilot projects at Arizona State University and the University of California-San Diego.“Our students are eager to engage on the critical issue of water sustainability in Arizona and work on a grassroots project,” said John Sabo, director of Research Development at ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. “It’s great to see the program our students helped to pilot expand globally.”

Also helping to populate the map and grow the user base are SGS, a global inspection, testing, verification and certification company in Poland; British Water in the United Kingdom; and ConocoPhillips, working in Indonesia.

To tap into the energy and creativity of students, and offer them real-world learning experiences that support local community and economic development, WaterMatch is collaborating on a global WaterMatch Makers university program with Net Impact, a global nonprofit based in San Francisco that supports a new generation of leaders who work for a more sustainable world.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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