This blog series examines major trends and newsworthy events that occurred in the US water industry during the fourth quarter of 2017. The third part of the series focuses on activity within the Midwest/Great Lakes and Central Plains regions of the US, as well as grant and funding information related to the water industry.
The Midwest/Great Lakes region consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the largest demand for surface, coating, and lining products across the country was seen in the Midwest/Great Lakes region, with Illinois and Indiana accounting for nearly two-thirds of the region’s total demand. The Midwest/Great Lakes also represented the greatest demand for source water management projects in the US, with Illinois accounting for nearly 40 percent of the region’s total demand during the fourth quarter of 2017.
In October 2017, Michigan state leaders formed the Michigan Cleaner Lake Erie through Action and Research (MI CLEAR) coalition, a partnership comprised of farmers, agricultural and environmental leaders, landscape professionals, conservationists, energy leaders, universities, and other members. The coalition aims to facilitate open discussion among regional leaders and to coordinate existing efforts towards improving water quality in the western Lake Erie Basin. Specifically, MI CLEAR is researching potential factors that can contribute to increased growth of harmful algal blooms.
Also in Michigan, the Great Lakes Commission and Lawrence Technological University established the Great Lakes Stormwater Technology Transfer Collaborative in November 2017. The partnership’s goal is to promote the adoption of green infrastructure, data-driven water management systems, and other advanced stormwater technology throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River regions of the US and Canada.
In Indiana, the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund, which is managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, awarded $960,000 in grants to five projects designed to improve waterways in the Chicago-Calumet region by reducing stormwater runoff, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, and increasing public-use opportunities. Collectively, these projects will add more than 551,200 square feet of green infrastructure, improve 13,200 feet of in-stream habitat, and restore 240 acres of riparian, upland, and other habitat.
In December 2017, the Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) at the University of Wisconsin launched the Great Waters Research Collaborative (GWRC), a project dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of tools for sustainable public, commercial, and industrial use of the country’s Great Waters, which include the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and Puget Sound. The project’s current focus is investigating the usefulness of ballast water management systems in preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species via commercial cargo ships.
The Central Plains region consists of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
During the fourth quarter of 2017, nearly two-thirds of the region’s demand for stormwater projects occurred in Kansas and Missouri, while more than half of the region’s demand for planning, design, engineering, and consulting services was seen in Colorado, Kansas, and Utah.
In November 2017, the US EPA awarded $12 million to Iowa’s drinking water loan program, which will be used to finance projects designed to improve municipal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure throughout the state. The money may also be utilized to increase water and energy efficiency and to reduce water pollution, thereby making the projects more sustainable.
In Kansas, “water technology farms” are testing the ability of various farming methods and technologies, including sensors and precision drip irrigation systems, to reduce water consumption by significant amounts. These large-scale farms are part of a three-year pilot program designed to demonstrate irrigation technology, conducted related research on the field scale, and support water conservation in response to declining resources in the Ogallala Aquifer.
In December 2017, Wyoming and Nebraska proposed a two-state project through which water from the North Platte River would be treated in Wyoming and then transported via 100 miles of new pipeline from the treatment plant to communities in western Nebraska. These communities are in need of a new water source because their own water supplies contain excessive amounts of arsenic, nitrates, and uranium.
Researchers at South Dakota State University are studying nutrient removal methods aimed at reducing the amount of fertilizers that enter agricultural runoff. Specifically, the researchers are testing the use of bioreactors in conjunction with fully biodegradable polysaccharides that feature gelling and thickening properties. This method has the potential to help clean runoff water and capture fertilizers for reuse in fields.
GRANTS AND FUNDING
In the fourth quarter of 2017, just over half of the financing opportunities in the US water industry were accessible through government channels, followed by atypical sources such as private investors and non-profit organizations. For example, the New York Environmental Facilities Corporation is offering grants to municipalities in New York to finance the initial planning stages of eligible Clean Water State Revolving Fund water quality projects; while the Maine Technology Institute has grants available for public and private entities in Maine to support infrastructure, equipment, and technology upgrades in a number of targeted sectors.
Nearly 45 percent of funding opportunities within the US water sector during the fourth quarter of 2017 were related to research and technology activities, including the development of advanced technologies aimed at improving quality and efficiency in drinking water delivery, commercial building water infrastructure management, and other applications.
Capital for planning, design, engineering, and consulting services represented nearly 15 percent of the US water industry’s funding opportunities in the fourth quarter of 2017. For example, there is financing available for brownfield site assessment and cleanup services, natural resource restoration efforts, the construction of water ways and other conservation infrastructure, and erosion and sediment control activities.
- Water Management
- Water Resource Management
- Water Resources Management
- Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)