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ASU Students Connect Ariz. Wastewater Producers With Reuse Options

Published: Monday, September 24, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 17:09

WaterMatch

Tiera Allen, College Times

For nearly the last year, an online global map that features wastewater-producing and reuse companies has opened communication lines all over the world and with the funding of Intel Corp. and the work of two ASU students Arizona has established a notable presence.

The initiative, WaterMatch, launched in October 2011 and works a lot like a social network in that through hosting profiles, it coordinates communication between effluent producers and companies that can use the water for things such as agriculture, cooling industrial factories and irrigating turf.

For WaterMatch to be successful, the site wanted as many facilities on the map as possible, said Sally Wittlinger, research analyst for the Decisions Center for a Desert City with the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability. Before interns Saad Ahmed and Rud Moe started to work on the project, creating profiles for qualified companies, Arizona didn’t have any facilities on the map.

Ahmed and Moe added 130 facilities from Arizona to the map and helped the facilities create their profiles on the website with information on how much effluent they produce, what kind of effluent is produced and if it’s already being reused.

The interns have been so successful that their workload will expand to facilities from New Mexico.

Ahmed said it’s going to be different working with the New Mexico companies because they won’t have the name of ASU to let clients know whom they’re working with.

Ahmed was interested in working with the program because it gave him a chance to work on a sustainability issue he was interested in and to do something good for the community.

“The benefit of this type of project is that if you can reuse wastewater for agricultural or industrial uses, then that frees up fresh water for other uses – human or animal consumption and the environment,” Wittlinger said. “It promotes sustainability of fresh water.”

The interns also helped pilot WaterMatch’s official university program, which they hope to launch soon. The university program will allow students to have water awareness meetings and engage in different water reuse activities.

Ahmed said in working on WaterMatch he has learned a lot about how Arizona utilizes water.

 “It’s surprising how much water is being used for the Phoenix golf courses,” Ahmed said. “When I realized how much municipal effluent is used for golf courses - Arizona does a very good job of using this water responsibly.”

WaterMatch parent company CH2M Hill will donate $25 to Water For People, which helps establish sustainable water resources in developing countries as more companies get involved.

“It takes a little bit to fill the user database, but everyone loves the idea,” said CH2M Director of Communications Kate Peabody. “We get great feedback everywhere we go. Everyone is really excited to sign up.”

Wittlinger said she hopes other ASU students will find the project interesting and then get involved in some kind of sustainability project.

“It’s all about sustainability,” she said. “That’s the whole focus of [the project]. Just encouraging others to say, ‘That’s a cool project. How can I get involved?’”

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