AIChE Announces New Water Initiative

Pressing issues regarding water supplies and sustainability have motivated AIChE to develop the AIChE Water Initiative. The ultimate goal of the Water Initiative is to determine the role and approaches for AIChE to lead chemical engineers to become recognized thought-leaders on the subject of water quality, security, and sustainability. The group has an advisory board which is co-chaired by David Klanecky of Dow and Wendy Young of GE Water & Process Technologies.

The water challenges to be explored by the AIChE Water Initiative in a series of workshops, conferences, webinars, and new website content include:

  • Access to water, which includes issues of potable scarcity, freshwater for croplands, and industrial water access.
  • Water purification and sanitation with a specific focus on bacteria disease (e. coli), heavy metals, agricultural chemicals run off, and pharmaceuticals and metabolites.
  • Water energy nexus and the relationship between the energy footprint of water and the water footprint of energy.

June Wispelwey, AIChE's executive director, said that the new effort is driven by concerns around future supplies of potable water, fresh water for crops, and encouraging efficiency in industry's needs for water.

"Beyond access," she explained, "there is, of course, a special role for chemical engineers in dealing with purification and sanitation issues, especially combating bacterial diseases, pollution by heavy metals and agricultural run-off, and the growing awareness of the impact of pharmaceuticals in wastewater."

AIChE hosted a water workshop in November at its 2010 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. This workshop served as the launching point for this exciting new initiative. AIChE also hosted a water workshop at the Second International Congress on Sustainability Science and Engineering (ICOSSE) taking place at the University of Arizona in January 2011. Additional activities are being planned around AIChE's Spring Meeting in Chicago from March 13-17, 2011, and at its Annual Meeting in Minneapolis in mid-October. For information about the new AIChE Water Initiative please visit

What water issues are at the top of your list?