Confluence Q&A

Group works to grow water technology firms, jobs

Q: What is Confluence?

A: Confluence is a nonprofit organization working to make the region an international leader in water technology and innovation. It’s also known as the Water Technology Innovation Cluster for the Ohio River Valley region. The group’s work spans from Northern Kentucky to Southeast Indiana, through Greater Cincinnati and north to Dayton.

Q: What does it hope to achieve?

A: The goal is to help scientists, inventors and companies create water technology that will help the environment and create jobs in the region.

Q: Why was it created here?

A: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Small Business Administration formed the organization in January 2011. At the time it was known as the Water Technology Innovation Cluster Dayton/Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky/Southeast Indiana. The two government agencies chose this region because Greater Cincinnati has an abundant supply of high-quality water. The region also has more than 100 years of water science and research based here thanks to utilities such as the Greater Cincinnati Water Works and the U.S. EPA’s Breidenbach Environmental Research Center, opened in 1975 near the University of Cincinnati’s main campus.

Q: Who is part of it?

A: Confluence has one paid staff member, Executive Director Melinda Kruyer. The group’s 19-member volunteer board of directors consists of leaders from local utilities, economic development organizations, major corporations, universities and smaller companies involved in water technology research and development.

Q: If I don’t work for a water technology company, why should I care?

A: Water affects everyone. This region doesn’t face the water shortages that plague communities across the U.S. and the world. But the Tri-State does have aging public infrastructure – the underground pipes that carry drinking water and wastewater. Studies estimate that the U.S. alone needs $633 billion in capital improvements over the next two decades to keep drinking water and sewage services at current levels. If Confluence can help develop local companies to address those problems – along with problems of water scarcity and water cleanliness that other parts of the country and world face – that could bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in investment to the region.

This story is part of a five-day series, in collaboration with WVXU, examining the region's water technology potential, which could pump billions of dollars into the local economy each year. The series airs on WVXU and is being published on WCPO.com the week of Sept. 23 through Sept. 27. Go to http://www.wcpo.com/liquid-assets for more.

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