One of the goals that came out of the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit of 2015 is to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all.” The Summit’s report, Time for Global Action for People and Planet states: “Clean accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.”
By 2050, some 6.3 billion people will live in cities and at least one in four is likely to be in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of water. Meanwhile, though 6 billion people have gained access to “improved” drinking water since 1990, 663 million are still without, 1.8 billion use water that is fecally contaminated, 40 percent are affected by water scarcity, 4 billion lack access to basic sanitation services, 80 percent of wastewater is discharged into rivers or sea without pollution removal, and floods and other water-related disasters account for 70 percent of all deaths related to natural disasters. The OECD report Water Security and Better Lives, suggests that “achieving water security objectives means maintaining acceptable levels for four water risks: risk of shortage, risk of inadequate quality, risk of excess (e.g., floods), and undermining the resilience of freshwater systems by exceeding coping capacity.”
The Sustainability Executive Order 13693 of 2015 sets an ambitious non-regulatory goal for Federal agencies “to improve agency water use efficiency and management, including stormwater management by reducing agency water consumption intensity by 36 percent by fiscal year 2025 from a 2007 baseline.”
The Order references sources of voluntary sustainable water strategies and tools including: DOE’s Federal Energy Management Office (FEMP) Alternative Water best management practice, EPA’s Water- Sense for facility water use and conservation, and the FEMP water conservation website -- http://energy.gov/eere/femp/water-use-reduction.
Separately, private sector associations such as the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the U.S. Water Alliance, the Environment Federation and the Value of Water Coalition all promote voluntary water access and conservation programs and strategies.
Supplementing these water-related efforts in the private and governmental sectors, various national and international standards bodies are now developing consensus standards for technology to improve clean water sources and wastewater treatment. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is developing standards for smart water management through information and communications technologies (ICTs). Closer to home, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME) committee on Water Efficiency Guidelines (WEG) is developing consensus standards for cooling towers, water conservation, reuse and recovery technologies, and fresh and non-fresh water resources.
It is EEMI’s mission to promote standards and initiatives such as those referenced above by conducting state-of-the-art and highly relevant research, promote graduate studies and other learning opportunities, and undertake service activities pertinent to the application and implementation of national and international voluntary, consensus standards.
Area Co-Lead: Alex A. Beehler - Visiting Scholar, former DoD Deputy Under Secretary, Installations & Environment, and first DoD Chief Sustainability Officer.
Area Co-Lead: Dr. Royce A. Francis – Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, SEAS, GW.