Monday, October 27, 2008

Conference Highlights Sustainable Water Practices

Large industrial facilities are getting the message about conservation, according to organizers of this week's International Water Conference. The conference is being held in San Antonio, Texas, although it's been organized for years by the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Chairman Kumar Sinha says a hot topic in recent years has been the idea of "zero liquid discharge," or the reuse of wastewater in industrial facilities in order to avoid having to clean it to the point that it meets federal and state environmental standards for safe discharge into streams and rivers. Those standards are most strict in the west, where water is less plentiful.

In eastern states like Pennsylvania, Sinha says the biggest issue has been consumption. Large industrial facilities like power plants use cooling towers, which require massive amounts of water. That water just evaporates, eliminating any possibility of re-use. Sinha says some engineers are trying to find ways to capture that water vapor.

The International Water Conference is in its 69th year. It began as a regional conference in western Pennsylvania when steel was still booming. The conference has expanded its reach since then, but the Engineers Society continues to run it, along with two other annual events: the International Bridge Conference and Business of Brownfields Conference.

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