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Energy-saving water treatment technologies face barriers to adoption

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 3/16/2018 1:26:00 PM

WaterTAP, the not-for-profit champion of Ontario’s water technology sector, says growing economies and the need to protect aquatic ecosystems are placing heavy demands globally on municipal water infrastructure.

“You won’t be able to hit some of your long-term 2030 or 2050 targets around carbon without considering water as a factor,” WaterTAP President and CEO Dr. Peter Gallant told EcoLog News following the release of its newest report, “Water: The next frontier on the path to a low carbon economy,” at Globe Forum 2018 in Vancouver. Conventional technology is energy inefficient, accounting for as much as half of a municipality’s total electricity use and more than 30% of its carbon emissions.

The report identifies several innovative solutions available to municipalities and industrial users today that can maximize energy efficiency, cut carbon emissions, generate renewable energy and harvest resources from the waste stream. These technologies have lower operating costs and lower energy costs by ranges of 70% to 90% in some cases, says Gallant.

There are two main impediments to their more widespread adoption, says Gallant, and WaterTAP is at work addressing both.

One is regulatory. Regulations are often unfriendly to new technology. In Ontario, for instance, “regulations are site- and technology-specific,” he says. Ottawa may receive approval for technology A, but if London seeks approval for the same technology it must repeat the approval process with no assurance that it will get the same result. Gallant says a group within WaterTAP is identifying regulatory barriers and working with governments to address them.

The other relates to procurement practices, which are biased in favour of legacy technology. The standard municipal procurement model seeks low cost and multiple vendors in order to solicit multiple bids, he says. But with a new technology, “if you have five vendors, it’s not innovative anymore,” he says. WaterTAP is also working with municipalities to recast procurement procedures so they don’t favour readily available solutions.

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