The Formation of a “Water Collaboratory”

The Water Collaboratory is just now being formed and organized under the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory umbrella.  While the “energy” focus of the Collaboratory has successfully created economic benefits to the four Collaboratory institutions and the state of Colorado since 2008 (see economic impact report–click here), the Water Collaboratory will be added to our work.

The Case for a Colorado Water Research Collaboratory

Colorado is an important source-water state in the western U.S.; yet, a large portion of the state periodically suffers from water scarcity. Thus, further development of existing water resources and development of new water resources from unconventional sources are required. Substantial and cutting edge research is already being carried out by the Colorado research universities and NREL, including active, synergistic collaboration among the institutions. Further promotion and enhancement of these collaborations will undoubtedly support development of sustainable water resources in Colorado, and will help to solidify Colorado as a national leader in water research and innovation.

The roles that water plays in the energy sector and energy plays in the water sector are well established and recognized by many federal and local agencies. Further fundamental research is needed at the water-energy nexus to increase the efficiency of both water and energy production and reuse and to exploit synergies across the sectors.

Established in 2008, the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory already works with industry partners, public agencies, and other universities and colleges to create and speed the commercialization of renewable energy technologies, energy management systems, and energy efficiency; support economic growth in Colorado and the nation with renewable energy industries; and educate researchers, technicians, and workforce. Every activity of the Collaboratory is dependent upon close coordination and cooperation among the four institutions, from organizational structure through the performance of laboratory and field research. The success of the Collaboratory is a tribute to the commitment of the leaders of the four institutions and its industry members. Therefore, considering the interconnectedness of energy and water, and the mutual benefits that can arise when addressing these two resources simultaneously, it is natural that we establish a Water Collaboratory under the umbrella of the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory.

The Colorado Water Research Collaboratory (“The Water Collaboratory”) will be a unique Colorado clean/renewable water research consortium/partnership focusing on water resources, water recycling, renewable water, water use and treatment efficiency, and the reduction of adverse impacts from domestic and industrial discharges to the environment. The Water Collaboratory will unite the science, engineering and social/behavioral research capabilities of four outstanding institutions: Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with a potential to add the major Colorado water/wastewater utilities, industries, and engineering firms as well as groups outside of Colorado.

Together, these four institutions offer a breadth and depth of innovative water treatment, water quality, water efficiency, social and behavioral sciences, and energy-water nexus research capabilities alongside a spirit of cooperation, unmatched by any American water research community. The Water Collaboratory will help create critical partnerships that pair private sector experts with research professionals to bring commercially viable water technologies to market, facilitate energy and water technology innovations, create new products and processes, develop and enhance companies and high-value jobs, grow local economies, while increasing the research capacity of Colorado’s premier universities along with NREL in strategic areas of water and water-energy efficiency.

The Water Collaboratory will work closely with state and federal agencies, public agencies, industry partners, and universities and colleges to:

  1. Promote partnerships among universities, federal and state governments, funders, philanthropists and philanthropic organizations, economic developers, workforce developers and the business community in order to strengthen and revitalize university and laboratory research and speed its translation into innovative products and services.
  2. Help merge the discovery-driven culture of the Collaboratory members with the innovation-driven environment of industry for the purposes of facilitating the rapid transfer of knowledge, ideas, and technology to commercialization and productive societal use.
  3. Develop alternative water resources, restore and reclaim impaired streams, improve energy management in the water sector, and enhance technology development for rapid transfer to the marketplace.
  4. Support economic advancement of communities, water utilities, and industries.
  5. Educate the next generation of water/wastewater researchers, technicians, and workforce.

Together we are thinking into the future!

As we build out our collaborative projects and teams, the Water Collaboratory stakeholders will be working alongside the exciting visionary planning for the National Western Center’s  water resource building expected to break ground late 2019 in Denver.   Click here to read more about the National Western Center and the CSU Water Resource Center building!   The Water Collaboratory will be one of the groups housed in the Water Resource Building working on research, innovations and solutions that will impact the state, the region, the United States and the world.

Read more about the National Western Center’s vision and watch the video.

On April 26-27, 2018 Colorado State University will be hosting the “Water in the West Symposium” in Denver.  Discussions at the event will center around water research and innovation, state and regional water policy, and future educational programming for the Water Resources Center building.  This innovative building will be the first facility as part of the re-imagined National Western Center.  Learn more here!