CINCINNATI - Greater Cincinnati leaders announced a major partnership Monday between local governments and businesses to make the area a hub for research and technology involving water.
The partnership – known as the Global Water Technology Hub – will help develop ideas that can be used to improve the delivery of safe, clean water and make it more efficient.
Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said the new effort is designed to make the region the Silicon Valley of water innovation.
"This is the next step of carrying Cincinnati's legacy of being an historic water innovator and this technology will also be an accelerator for technology and innovation in the water industry,” Dohoney said.
Also involved in the effort are Greater Cincinnati Water Works, the Metropolitan Sewer District, the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and private companies.
One of the companies is owned by Booky Oren, the former chairman of Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.
Oren, a world-renowned water technology expert, wants to create a platform to launch new business ventures. They would be focused on improving water quality and making water systems more secure from attack or disaster.
Ideally, the hub will foster public-private partnerships with utility systems worldwide, backers said.
“We are not developing theoretical solutions (to problems), but only things that will improve the day to day operation of these utilities,” Oren said.
The hub is an outgrowth of Confluence, a group formed by the U.S. EPA and the Small Business Administration.
Confluence includes federal laboratories, several universities, economic development agencies and area corporations like Procter & Gamble and General Electric.
About 60 billion gallons of water flow through Greater Cincinnati waterways each day, but only about 1 percent is treated for local use, Dohoney said.
The untapped resource could help solve global problems.
About 783 million people globally don’t have access to safe water, which is roughly 11 percent of the world's population, according to UNICEF.
Additionally, 2.5 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation, which is about 35 percent of the world's population.
Devising solutions to the problems not only will help people, it also will create jobs and generate economic activity.
If the partnership evolves as planned, it could help keep rates low for local utility customers, said Tony Parrott, MSD’s executive director.
The water innovation market is fast growing, estimated at $425 billion globally, according to estimates by Goldman Sachs Research.
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