Please review the document : “Overspending on Waste Water Treatment” below
TO: Daune O’Brien, Professor
FROM: John June, Engineering Student
DATE: February 7, 2018
SUBJECT: Overspending on Waste Water Treatment
The University of Maryland at College Park (UMD) currently houses over 12,000 students on campus, with each student using approximately 18.8 gallons of toilet water per day U.S. News & World Report; Alliance for Water Efficiency). Given that the cost of water and sewer rates around the Southern Maryland area come out to around $10.50 per 10,000 gallons of water, UMD spends over $2,368 per day solely on brown wastewater generation (American Water Works Association). Over the course of one year, this water generation could total up to over $500,000 in spending. This unnecessary water usage not only wastes the money of university students and Maryland taxpayers, but it also poses an insidious threat to the rest of the world given the current global water crisis. From the University of Maryland Office of Sustainability, under their section detailing their dedication to sustainable water use, the office states that UMD “will reduce its purchases of potable water, seek opportunities and expand its harvesting and reuse of water…increase water capture, treatment, and re-use to decrease storm water runoff and use of purchased water” (University Of Maryland Office Of Sustainability). Thus, it would be in misalignment with UMD’s commitment to sustainability if the university did not take action to determine how to cut down on their brown wastewater discharge. Due to the fact that the theoretical feasibility of a closed-loop wastewater treatment process has already been proven, funding a research project into developing and implementing a technology to recycle the wastewater generated on UMD’s campus would undoubtedly be the most logical next step forward (Gates). In doing so, not only could the University save an exorbitant amount of money, they could also save millions of lives of future generations as well.
The Importance of Recycling Wastewater
· Many of the water systems such as rivers, lakes, and underground aquifers that humans use to sustain their typical daily life are becoming stressed and either are depleting rapidly or becoming too contaminated to drink (World Wildlife Fund).
· By the trajectory our society is currently on, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could face water scarcity (World Wildlife Fund).
· The stress water shortage could put on certain countries’ economies and governments could create a turbulent butterfly affect around the globe. If water becomes scarce enough, no area of the world would be left undamaged by the wide-reaching consequences.
· Cutting back on money spent on wastewater generation and treatment would save money that could be fed back into developing UMD’s facilities and resources, which would even further stimulate UMD’s economy.
How to Affect Change
· Although the issue of UMD’s wasteful brown water generation is clearly evident, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to develop the best course of action. Potential areas of research to support the topic include: estimating energy consumption for the current wastewater treatment method, estimating energy consumption for all alternative wastewater treatment methods, in-depth return on investment analysis for all alternative wastewater treatment methods, analysis of the ecological impact associated with the current wastewater treatment method, as well as analysis of the ecological impact associated with all alternative wastewater treatment methods.
· Students at the University of Maryland can use their voice through both the student government as well as student organizations to advocate for better spending of their student fees, and more sustainable practices by the university. In particular, one student organization on campus whose involvement could be very advantageous for this project is the BSOS Sustainability Task Force, which identifies a problem regarding campus sustainability each semester and works towards finding a solution to it.
· Both small and large companies as well student-based teams and organizations should work together towards the goal of developing a closed-loop brown wastewater treatment system for the university.
· Three individuals of power whose involvement and interviews could drastically affect the success of this project are Wallace Loh (President of the University of Maryland College Park), Scott Lupin (Director of the Office of Sustainability and Associate Director for the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability & Risk), and Charles Reuning (Associate Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer).
· Every single person living on this Earth has the potential to be affected by water scarcity in the long-term. If the university is able to implement a solution to this problem, it is likely other universities and organizations around the world will be able to adopt the same action as well. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that every person who is currently living, or will live on this Earth has the potential to be impacted by such a resolution.
Why You Should Trust Me
· I am currently a Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Double Degree student at the University of Maryland with a broad understanding of both the water supply, as well as the wastewater treatment systems in the United States.
· Given my many connections to engineers and investors in the water industry, I provide an extremely diverse outlet to second-hand expertise regarding this problem.
· As someone who is not only very read on the topic, but also has experience designing and fabricating complex electrical and mechanical systems, I have both a deep understanding of the bigger picture, as well as the technical knowhow necessary to implement a solution.
· In my capacity as a research assistance and undergraduate student with over 150 credits of coursework ranging from engineering, to geography, to entrepreneurship, I have developed a very comprehensive understanding of how to conduct solid research, as well as environmental impact, financial, and technical analysis. Additionally, I have taken many courses in physics as well as fluid dynamics and product development. It is due to my background knowledge in these topics that I am so confident the issue of water usage at the University of Maryland is a serious problem.
In conclusion, I believe you should let me do my project on researching the inefficiencies of, as well as potential alternatives to the University of Maryland wastewater treatment system due to the following reasons:
· This issue is widely different from any of the topics on the “off-list”
· This issue is very under-debated and drastically underrepresented in politics and under pursued in the private business sector.
· Since the problem exists on a campus that is world renowned for its commitment to sustainability, this issue is not only exigent but also urgent in a time of great environmental change.
· This issue not only involves millions of dollars over a several-year period but also it is serious enough that the UMD Office of Sustainability has formally addressed it on the home page of their website for their sustainability goals.
· This issue directly aligns with my area of expertise, allowing me to take quick action towards finding a solution by the end of the semester.
· I have access to an entire 20,000-person student body committed to advocating for sustainability and green initiatives. I also have access to many wastewater technology investors who could share their insight on the issue, as well as numerous wastewater engineers who would be more than happy to serve as credible sources for my future projects.
· I have the credentials and technical experience to convince stakeholders of my credibility to resolve this issue.
· As someone who is currently studying to complete two engineering degrees in completely different fields, I could have easily chosen to research a topic that is easy to defend, such as automobile emissions, thermal management inefficiencies of campus buildings, electronic-waste management, or regulations on artificial intelligence. This being said, my commitment to writing about this problem not only demonstrates how important I believe this topic is, but it also demonstrates how impacting and drastically world changing I believe the solution could be.
Alliance for Water Efficiency. “Toilets.” Toilets | Home Water Works, www.home-water- works.org/indoor-use/toilets.
American Water Works Association. “Is Water Free?” Cost of Water, www.pvwc.com/story_of_water/html/costs.htm.
Gates, Bill. “This Ingenious Machine Turns Feces Into Drinking Water”. gatesnotes.com, 2020, https://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Omniprocessor-From-Poop-to-Potable.
University Of Maryland Office Of Sustainability. “Sustainability Goals | University Of Maryland Office Of Sustainability”. sustainability.umd.edu, 2020, https://sustainability.umd.edu/progress/sustainability-goals.
U.S. News & World Report. “Here’s What Student Life Is Like At University of Maryland– College Park.” www.usnews.com/best-colleges/university-of-maryland-2103/student-life.
World Wildlife Fund. “Water Scarcity | Threats | WWF”. 2020. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity
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