EPA Administrator Jackson Launches Cincinnati Water Technology Information Cluster: Smart environmental protection creates jobs

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 01/18/2011 - 16:00.


National Mortality Effects from Existing Powerplants - note Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana region largely browned-out

Now is the time for the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region to come together to build and maintain a vibrant, technology-driven economy that influences positive change in the way we protect human health and the environment.

That is the proclamation on the home page for a new Environmental Protection Agency Water Technology Information Cluster (WTIC), in Cincinnati, announced by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today. From the press release introducing the WTIC: 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to announce a new collaborative effort called the Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC).  The WTIC will develop and commercialize innovative technologies to solve environmental and public health challenges, encourage sustainable economic development, and create jobs.  As a starting point, WTIC will focus on technologies in the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana that will help protect the health of millions of Americans by developing state of the art safeguards for clean water.

The subtitle to this press release states: Smart environmental protection creates jobs

This is certainly a new approach to environmental protection and economic development... especially coming from a department of the Federal government. But, I've come to expect new approaches to protecting the environment from Jackson, who I declared environmentalist of the year, for 2010.

Other exciting EPA innovations of last year, reported on realNEO, include:

What's innovative about WTIC? The EPA writes:

EPA has invested $5 million to conduct key studies of the environmental technology market place for drinking water, acquire the services of a cluster consultant, and conduct technology and knowledge mapping of the region to gauge its strengths.  WTIC will develop, test, and market innovative processes and technologies including those that:

  • Are sustainable, and water and energy efficient
  • Will be cost effective for the utilities and consumers
  • Address a broad array of contaminants
  • Improve public health protection

In addition, WTIC will move forward with the development of green infrastructure, including rain gardens.  The rain gardens will be designed to receive stormwater runoff from roads, roofs, and parking lots. The rain gardens’ sandy soils allow stormwater to gain access to the native soils below and eventually contribute to groundwater recharge.  Pollutants and nutrients in stormwater runoff are removed by rain garden vegetation and soils through biological and physical processes.

The WTIC website further explains:

The idea to form a water technology cluster in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana stems from an EPA initiative that recognizes the importance of harnessing regional expertise to encourage economic development, and environmental and human health protection.

The success of technology clusters is based on committed strategic partnerships among key organizations from seven area sectors: universities, large corporations, emerging companies, federal government, state government, local government, and economic development associations.

Our region’s current resources and past successes in technology transfer highlight the capability to meet the demands required of today’s environmental technology development—initially in water technologies.

Regarding why Cincinnati... the press release about WTIC explains:

Based on the history of EPA’s laboratory in Cincinnati on water research, Administrator Jackson selected this region to launch federal support of WTIC.  Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana have a strong history of water research and water technology innovation.  A large portion of the jobs created will be based in the region to assist with research and development as needed.  By bringing the small businesses together with public utilities, research partners, and others, the technologies will have a greater opportunity to move from the drawing board to the marketplace.  WTIC and the region intend to use these assets as a platform for building a technology-driven economy that enhances environmental policy development, and helps protect human health and the environment at the regional, national, and international level.


Location and relative size of U.S. Powerplants by Fuel Type

That is all good news for Cincinnati, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, where our mix of energy technologies - heavily weighted toward coal power generation - causes extreme levels of pollution and so environmental injustice, as reflected in the graphics above. 

It is especially good timing to open the WTIC in Cincinnati now, as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, is from the Cincinnati area... and he is expected to oppose environmental "regulation" that may harm businesses' economic competitiveness.

What he does not appear to oppose is environmental job growth.

If successful, the WTIC may allow House Speaker Boehner to demonstrate that "Smart environmental protection creates jobs" in his home territory, offering a valuable lesson for all leadership of America.

However, whether WTIC can go from day one to creating jobs in the next few years is to be seen - as their press release states, they are just at the beginning:

At present, WTIC steering committee is the only formal cluster entity leading the planning and development.  The steering committee is currently developing a framework and operating structure that will guide WTIC’s make up and operating processes.  The intention is for WTIC to flourish under its own power, with EPA as one of many participants collaborating to develop technologies to solve environmental challenges.

Of note to those concerned about the environment and water quality in Northern Ohio, there is no NEO regional representation on the WTIC Steering Committee, at this time, so leadership of this region needs to step up and demand a seat at this table. The current steering committee is as follows:

Steering Committee

  • Chair - Alan Vicory, Executive Director - Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission
  • Tammi Clements, Director - Department of Water, City of Dayton
  • Gary Conley, President - TechSolve
  • Sandra Degen, Vice President - Research University of Cincinnati
  • Jeff Fulgham, Chief Sustainability Officer - Ecomagination Leader, GE Power and Water
  • Douglas “Dusty” Hall, Program Development Manager - Miami Conservancy District
  • Quinten Harris, Director - Ohio Department of Development, SW Ohio Region
  • Nina Joshi, President/CEO - UES, Inc.
  • Jim “Lefty” Leftwich, President - Dayton Development Coalition
  • Ron Lovan, President and CEO - Northern Kentucky Water District
  • Mickey McCabe, Vice President for Research - University of Dayton
  • James Parrott, Executive Director - Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati
  • Mark Richey - Draper Triangle Investments
  • William Scheyer, President - Vision 2015
  • Dan Tobergte, President - Northern Kentucky Tri-ED
  • Amanda Waters, General Counsel - Northern Kentucky Sanitation District #1

Note, the involvement of universities and corporations - like with Jeff Fulgham, Chief Sustainability Officer, Ecomagination Leader, GE Power and Water - should ensure any outcomes are business-friendly, and comfort business-friendly politicians to the highest level.

As I am consulting to community development and environmental justice leadership in Cincinnati, who work with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati - a member of the WTIC Steering Committee - I expect to learn much more about this cluster and will watch its development closely. I'll certainly keep realNEO posted.

This WTIC development may only be good for the world, nation and Ohio... make it good for NEO as well!

Northeast Ohio - get involved in WTIC.

Here is the entire press release from the EPA announcing the formation of the WTIC today: 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 18, 2011

Administrator Jackson, SBA Administrator Mills Announce Launch of Water Technology Innovation Cluster

Smart environmental protection creates jobs

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to announce a new collaborative effort called the Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC).  The WTIC will develop and commercialize innovative technologies to solve environmental and public health challenges, encourage sustainable economic development, and create jobs.  As a starting point, WTIC will focus on technologies in the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana that will help protect the health of millions of Americans by developing state of the art safeguards for clean water.     

This region is home to many small firms ready to seize the opportunities presented by the WTIC.  Small businesses are the engine of growth for the economy and they develop the cutting-edge products and services we need to stay competitive on a global scale.  By bringing them together with public utilities, research partners, and others, their ideas will have greater opportunities to move from the drawing board to the marketplace.

“Protecting America's waters is one of EPA's top priorities, and we have called for innovative strategies and technology to meet our nation's 21st century water needs.  By bringing together public utilities, research partners and innovative businesses, the Water Technology Innovation Cluster will be instrumental in strengthening health protections for millions of Americans and promoting investments in cutting-edge technology,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “This cluster will benefit from the region's abundance of cutting-edge companies. Investments made here will encourage continued growth, while positioning our nation to lead the way in a new market of environmental technologies.”

"All across America, innovative small businesses are creating jobs and rebuilding the economy.  The Water Technology Innovation Cluster will lead to new opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the greater Cincinnati area,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.  “This public-private partnership will not only improve public health, but also help keep us competitive around the world by allowing small businesses to invest in new ideas."

A regional technology cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected firms—businesses, suppliers, service providers—and supporting institutions such as local government, business chambers, universities, investors, and others that work together in an organized manner to promote economic growth and technological innovation.

EPA has invested $5 million to conduct key studies of the environmental technology market place for drinking water, acquire the services of a cluster consultant, and conduct technology and knowledge mapping of the region to gauge its strengths.  WTIC will develop, test, and market innovative processes and technologies including those that:

  • Are sustainable, and water and energy efficient
  • Will be cost effective for the utilities and consumers
  • Address a broad array of contaminants
  • Improve public health protection

In addition, WTIC will move forward with the development of green infrastructure, including rain gardens.  The rain gardens will be designed to receive stormwater runoff from roads, roofs, and parking lots. The rain gardens’ sandy soils allow stormwater to gain access to the native soils below and eventually contribute to groundwater recharge.  Pollutants and nutrients in stormwater runoff are removed by rain garden vegetation and soils through biological and physical processes.

Based on the history of EPA’s laboratory in Cincinnati on water research, Administrator Jackson selected this region to launch federal support of WTIC.  Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana have a strong history of water research and water technology innovation.  A large portion of the jobs created will be based in the region to assist with research and development as needed.  By bringing the small businesses together with public utilities, research partners, and others, the technologies will have a greater opportunity to move from the drawing board to the marketplace.  WTIC and the region intend to use these assets as a platform for building a technology-driven economy that enhances environmental policy development, and helps protect human health and the environment at the regional, national, and international level.

At present, WTIC steering committee is the only formal cluster entity leading the planning and development.  The steering committee is currently developing a framework and operating structure that will guide WTIC’s make up and operating processes.  The intention is for WTIC to flourish under its own power, with EPA as one of many participants collaborating to develop technologies to solve environmental challenges.

More information on WTIC:  http://www.epa.gov/wtic/faqs.html

More information on rain gardens:  http://www.epa.gov/ednnrmrl/publications/factsheets/RainGardens_Brief.pdf

Note: If a link above doesn't work, please copy and paste the URL into a browser.

View all news releases related to research

 

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Science Wednesday: A Cluster for Clean Water Innovations

From the EPA Greenversations Science Wednesday feature, more on A Cluster for Clean Water Innovations

Science Wednesday: A Cluster for Clean Water Innovations

Posted on January 19th, 2011 - 10:30 AM

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Aaron Ferster

When people think fashion, they think Milan and New York. The San Francisco Bay area has been dubbed “Silicon Valley,” the geographic heart of the high-tech computer industry. And although I’ve never been there myself, I still conjure up images of fine wine and cuisine whenever someone mentions a trip to Paris.

Sometimes, a critical mass of experts, producers, and innovators come together to the benefit of an entire industry. It’s the classic win-win situation where everyone involved, from the producers of a product to the consumers benefit from a spirit of collaboration and healthy competition.

Someday soon, Southwestern Ohio, Southeastern Indiana and Northern Kentucky will be known as the Milan, Paris, and “Silicon Valley” of clean water technology.

Yesterday, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson joined the administrator of the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, University of Cincinnati President Gregory H. Williams, and local officials at the Agency’s environmental research center in Cincinnati to announce the launch of the Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC).

The WTIC will spur the research and develop of new environmental technologies for improving water quality in local communities. Through a series of collaborations, investments in small businesses, and research grants, EPA and partners will support the development of green infrastructure projects, advancements in water monitoring technologies and sensor devices, and new ways to remove multi-contaminants from drinking water.

WTIC directly supports EPA’s new Drinking Water Strategy to foster development of new drinking water treatment technologies by developing, testing and commercializing innovative processes and technologies that are sustainable, and water and energy efficient. The new products will be cost effective for utilities and consumers.

In the process, WTIC will attract the best and the brightest scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and small business owners to drive innovation, create jobs, and foster investments in a sustainable future. The economy, the environment, and the country stand to benefit. It’s a win-win-win.

About the Author: EPA science writer Aaron Ferster is the editor of Science Wednesday and a frequent contributor.

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Another demonstration of Jackson's Green Wave Rising

Top Environmental Development of 2010: EPA Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson with Tulane University mascot-inspired EPA Green Wave Rising mascot - not authorized by the EPA or Tulane
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson with Tulane University mascot-inspired EPA Green Wave Rising mascot - not authorized by the EPA or Tulane

Compliments of Norm Roulet, Tulane Class of 1983

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is this a good fit for WTIC?

A New Energy Storage Option: the “Gravity Power Module” or GPM - is this a good fit for WTIC?

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