FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. — Increasing regulation and a new focus on efficiency are turning the water market into one of the hottest commodities for engineering firms, The Zweig Letter reported. Also, a difficult funding environment in Washington, D.C., will force players in the market to come up with innovative solutions.

Engineers are being called upon to be creative with their designs as public agencies are looking at new approaches and solutions for integrated water system management, which combines water conservation pricing and regulation with utilization of new water sources such as stormwater, graywater, and blackwater onsite water recovery and reuse, desalination, reclaimed sewage, and massive fixture retrofits.

Steve Maxwell, managing director of TechKNOWLEDGEy Strategic Group, a Boulder, Colo.-based management consultancy specializing in merger and acquisition advisory services and strategic planning for the water and broader environmental industries, wrote in a column for The Zweig Letter (Jan. 7) that water treatment, storage, and distribution systems depend upon an ever-increasing array of monitoring data and analytical information in order to function efficiently.

“The ability to monitor, track, and understand the quality and quantity of water is becoming increasingly critical,” Maxwell wrote. “As new and more comprehensive regulatory controls evolve and as new contaminant effects are better understood, testing and monitoring requirements are only going to grow. And with growth will come exploding demand for more and better analytical and engineering support and management systems.”

Jerry Yudelson, green development expert and author, in his new book “Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis,” examines some of these new opportunities and explains how engineers can help to create a future of water abundance and to profit from new opportunities in the water sector. Topics include:

  • Total water system analysis, planning, and building
  • Onsite wastewater treatment, building water monitoring, control, and conservation systems
  • The “water/energy” nexus that shows both promise and peril
  • Stormwater management with onsite recycling and reuse
  • Cooling tower water management

Yudelson said engineers should explore new supply sources such as desalination; “purple pipe” systems supplying treated wastewater for homes, offices, and factories; and “virtual reservoirs” in water conservation systems. “It’s a holistic approach,” he said.