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Water Environment Federation to Congress: Protect funding for water research

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, OCT 30, 2017 -- The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is urging Congress to protect funding for federal research that is critical to addressing challenges facing the nation's water resources.

WEF requests funding be increased or at least maintained for water research programs at the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, National Science Foundation, and Bureau of Reclamation.

"Funding for water science and technology research is essential to the continued protection of public health and the environment," said Eileen O'Neill, Executive Director of WEF. "Continued research funding is critical to the quality of life for communities across the U.S., and the business and economic advantages it gives our nation in the global marketplace."

Population growth, aging infrastructure, increasing urbanization, and extreme events are increasing threats to water quality and demand on water resources. Research can increase understanding of the potential impacts of these on public health and water quality. It can also lead to new and improved methods to mitigate health risks and damage to the environment, enhanced resource recovery (nutrients, energy, and water) from wastewater treatment, provision of sufficient water for energy and food, opportunities for U.S. companies in a growing global marketplace, and cost-effective infrastructure repair and replacement.

"WEF urges Congress and the Administration, through increased funding and programmatic support, to bolster efforts in the water sector to develop innovative technologies and approaches," said O'Neill.

The letter to congress went on:

"The current data on water research and technology development needs for the water sector come from a recent survey of utilities that collectively serve >70% of the sewered population of the United States (U.S.). The total budget for these water research and technology development projects is $350 million, of which utilities have committed to contribute $200 million, but the projects are in need of an additional $150 million in funding to advance. Needs were identified in the areas of energy recovery, phosphorus recovery, nutrient recovery, and intelligent water systems.

"Survey respondents only estimated municipal wastewater treatment needs, and represent a small sub-section of the >16,500 Water Resource Recovery Facilities (a.k.a. wastewater treatment facilities) in the U.S. The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and other organizations estimate that the $350 million required is at least an order of magnitude too small to cover the water sector's real technology advancement and commercialization needs. WEF urges Congress and the Administration, through increased funding and programmatic support, to bolster efforts in the water sector to develop innovative technologies and approaches.

Innovation in the water sector is needed to address our nation's current and future challenges.

About WEF
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 34,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment. To learn more, visit www.wef.org.

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