While at the annual Water Environmental Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) this year, I had the amazing opportunity to meet with the editors whose publications keep engineers and plant decision-makers informed on the latest and greatest in water and wastewater treatment. I learned more than I ever thought possible about how industrial processors and municipalities turn the leftover stuff that they don’t need (waste), into usable water, drinking water and clean energy. For instance, I can now hold a conversation about sludge growth, the various pros and cons of anaerobic vs. aerobic digestion, and the best ways to remove flocculated solids. So, in addition to making me a more educated resource for my clients, I’m now way more fun to have at cocktail parties!
Throughout the series of press meetings, three themes floated to the top (lol). Due to increasing water scarcity and growing needs to reduce and reuse energy to remain efficient and comply with regulations, decision-makers in the industry are looking for advice and best practices on the following:
1. How to do more with less.
Water is intrinsic for doing business in most industries, and in the last decade, usage has reached an all-time high, while surface and groundwater availability can’t keep up. Long periods of drought, drying water basins and aquifer overdraft have impacted water supply, groundwater contamination and increased groundwater pumping costs. The challenge of reducing water consumption has moved from the desk of the production manager to the agenda of the board, as its scarce availability and increased restrictions hinder delivery of services and products. Therefore, it’s at the top of everyone’s list to find ways to reduce and reuse water.
2. Turn your business into a refinery.
When you think of a refinery, you probably think of an energy production facility that uses crude oil or natural gas as inputs. Well let me tell ya, there’s a whole new world of alternative energy production made possible by industrial manufacturers and municipalities! So basically, the extra whey that’s produced from making your greek yogurt can be further processed into clean energy. And so can the cow poop from a local farm. Or the microbes from a brewery. Water, wastewater and energy recovery systems can help processing plants like dairies and breweries save energy by making their own—essentially refining their own waste into a usable energy source. How cool!!!
3. Address regulatory concerns and changes.
Rules exist for a reason, usually to keep us safe. For companies, however, increasingly stringent regulations for waste disposal can be damaging for their bottom line. As it relates to spending, most utilities with large-scale programs that gain funding are those required by federal or state regulations, such as nutrient removal and drinking water quality requirements. The challenge becomes balancing these expenses with infrastructure maintenance and adjusting your systems to be compliant with new regulations.
While water scarcity is indeed a real threat for many businesses, several water conservation measures can be implemented in order to limit the production process water footprint and operate more efficiently. It’s our job as PR counselors to help you understand the issues at play and craft thoughtful responses that resonate with engineers, plant decision-makers, or whoever your hard-to-reach audience may be. For more insight on reaching engineers, check out our free eBook.