Thursday, January 13, 2011

Water An Economic Opportunity, Says Report

The Pittsburgh World Environment Day Partnership released a report assessing the region's capacity to become a leader in water and water-related industries. With the region's rivers and rainfall, it has a tremendous advantage in becoming a leader in these industries, the report says.

Jerry Paytas, Vice President of Research and Analytics at Fourth Economy says because water is used every day, it hasn't always been thought of as an industry. The renewable resource is increasingly used in industries such as food production and gas drilling.

On a global basis, water availability is expected to change in the next few decades due to expanding populations, people not necessarily clustering in places where water is plentiful and climate change. Paytas says this makes Pittsburgh poised to become a leader in this industry.

Jeanne VanBriesen, Director of the Water Quality in Urban Environment Systems at Carnegie Mellon says water can be seen as what the next stage in Pittsburgh industries will look like. "We've been an extraction-focused region for a long time with our oil, and our coal and now our natural gas. And really determining what the region is doing in terms of this renewable resource has been a challenge we're really interested to take on," she said.

The report says there are more than 3,000 firms with nearly 3.5 billion in sales in the water-related sectors in the region. They recommend Southwest Pennsylvania develop a Water Cluster Consortium and develop more efficient uses of water for energy, industry and agriculture.

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