Water Security Grand Challenge: Workshop Outcomes

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Water is a critical resource for human health, economic growth, energy production, and agricultural productivity. The United States has historically benefitted from access to low-cost water supplies, but challenges for freshwater supplies could threaten U.S. economic competitiveness and water security. Water quality issues can also impact human health and the environment, yet municipal treatment systems face billions of dollars in unmet infrastructure investment needs. Lack of safe and secure water supplies is also a global problem, with several regions unable to afford traditional water treatment technologies. To help address these challenges and opportunities, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry on October 25, 2018 announced the Water Security Grand Challenge. The Water Security Grand Challenge is a White House-initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. DOE hosted a stakeholder workshop on October 25, 2018 at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to gather input from external experts on prize competitions that could address water and associated energy-related challenges. The workshop included over 80 experts from 40 institutions, including water technology providers, trade organizations, energy producers, nonprofit organizations, academia, federal agencies, and DOE national laboratories. Participants contributed to breakout groups that developed prize ideas that align with the goals and topics of the Grand Challenge:

•             Cost-competitive desalination technologies

•             Transforming produced water to a resource

•             Reducing water impacts in the power sector

•             Increasing resource recovery from wastewater

•             Developing small, modular energy-water systems

•             Crosscutting, open topics