World Water Day – A Focus on Sustainability

As the world celebrates World Water Day this week, access to fresh water continues to be a central concern for millions.

When the United Nations (UN) declared March 22 World Water Day, it sent an urgent message around the globe: We have a water crisis. Creating awareness of the shortage of fresh water for millions of people on the planet, World Water Day continues to grow in significance as an international observance day.  “We need to resonate to the world that having sustainable water sources for everyone on the planet is a necessity not a commodity,” says Senior Engineering Manager Jay Ameno, PE. “It’s an important message that World Water Day brings to the forefront every year.”

While World Water Day has helped bring about major changes, many countries suffer from deficient infrastructure and poor economics that inhibit clean water sources. The statistics are disturbing:

  • 785 million people live without adequate drinking water sources
  • 1 in 4 healthcare facilities lacks basic water services
  • 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation, like toilets or latrines

Throughout UN member nations, the days on and around March 22 are devoted to activities promoting clean water efforts. Conventions, fund-raising campaigns, educational events, even theatrical and musical celebrations focus on the need for clean and affordable water.

“Having sustainable water sources for everyone on the planet is a necessity not a commodity.”

Jay Ameno, PE, Senior Engineering Manager, GAI Consultants

Each year the UN continues to fight the water emergency with a mission to reduce, treat, and reuse wastewater and protect people around the world from polluted drinking, bathing, and irrigation water.

But such problems are not just relevant to underdeveloped countries. A look at the US Infrastructure Scorecard shows we have water issues that need to be addressed in our own communities.

Grading America’s Water Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) provides an overall and state-by-state comprehensive report on the nation’s infrastructure. Every four years, ASCE reports and “grades” the physical conditions of a state’s major infrastructure components. The individual state report evaluates aviation, bridges, energy, ports, roads, schools, stormwater, transit, and wastewater.

As we focus on water, the grades on water infrastructure can be worrying. Take a look at Florida’s scorecard, for instance. The grades are average and below for water problems:

  • C+ on drinking water
  • C on Wastewater
  • D on Stormwater

What can be done to improve these grades? At GAI, we are working with Florida utilities to address aging water facilities and aid them in producing a higher water quality. In the City of Miramar, for instance, we designed the city’s first stormwater pump station and connection to a reuse system. Through stormwater treatment and reuse, we helped reclaim a source of water that would otherwise be lost to the Atlantic Ocean.

We are also a key part of a $25M design-build upgrade for Miramar’s East Water Treatment Plant to a nanofiltration membrane water treatment facility. In this project, we are working within a lime softening facility built in 1955 that has reached its useful life. Our challenge is to retrofit existing buildings to house the new 6 mgd process while keeping the existing lime softening process in service to supply water to the customers. The site has no room to build a parallel treatment process, making this a cooperative effort for operations, engineering, and construction. The new process will also require new raw water wells and a deep injection well for disposal of the brine from the nanofiltration process.  This project is in the City’s Historic District, is able to meet new regulations, and is compatible with the water produced in the City’s west water treatment plant.

These types of projects highlight the urgent issues we are facing with our nation’s aging infrastructure. Engineering companies such as GAI are working diligently to improve and rebuild. This World Water Day, we hope to be one step closer to improving our water infrastructure grades and to building awareness for and gaining more sustainable water resources.

GAI’s team of water professionals help utilities define and plan for the future through master planning that addresses water, wastewater, and stormwater. With limited water resources available, GAI also assists clients plan for future growth and the optimal use of existing water supplies. For questions or additional information on GAI’s Water services, contact Senior Engineering Manager Jay Ameno, PE at 561.465.8001.

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