Maryland-Israel Conference Highlights Water Reuse and Security Issues

The Maryland-Israel Sister State Committee and the Maryland Department of the Environment hosted a conference on water reuse and security on October 10, 2018, in College Park, Maryland. The conference focused on: (1) the current status of water security and reuse issues in Maryland and nationally; (2) State and local plans to increase water reuse and security; and (3) opportunities to partner with Israeli businesses to leverage their methods and technologies locally.

From L to R: Israel-Colorado Innovation Fund General Partner Gili Elkin, Fluence Corp. CMO Erik Arfalk, Rudy Chow, Chris Phipps, Keith Tyson, and Kando CEO Ari Goldfarb

Several presenters discussed national concerns for water security and reuse. From a security perspective, four key vulnerabilities were noted: (1) resiliency to natural or man-made disasters; (2) protection against intentional contamination and attacks; (3) protection against unintentional contamination/accidents; and (4) capacity to handle new and emerging contaminants, such as prescription medications. The presenters also stressed the importance of a water reuse strategy for Maryland. While Maryland is generally thought of as a water “rich” state, some areas already suffer from water shortages and water supplies will be further stressed in the future due to climate change and population growth.

A panel of county department of public works (DPW) directors discussed their efforts and challenges to address water security and reuse, including Baltimore City DPW Director Rudy Chow, Anne Arundel County DPW Director Chris Phipps, and WSSC Engineering/Environmental Services Manager Keith Tyson.

From L to R: Mark Belton, Ben Grumbles, Hans Schmidt, and Roy McGrath

A state panel included Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton, Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles, Maryland Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Hans Schmidt, and Maryland Environmental Services (MES) Director/CEO and Chairman Roy McGrath. Belton focused on water security issues while Grumbles stressed the importance of working with Israeli technology and local governments to move forward with water quality and affordability. Schmidt commented on the diverse water needs of Maryland’s farmers while McGrath discussed the role of MES in providing water services.

Action items generated at the Conference included: (1) funding for water security infrastructure; (2) regulatory flexibility; (3) public education; (3) regulations for use of “greywater”; (4) grants to encourage water reuse; (5) identification of common needs and the sharing of research; (6) approaching the issues from a holistic perspective; and (7) not “reinventing the wheel.”

The Conference was possible because of the Sister State relationship shared between Maryland and Negev, Israel. The University of Maryland and CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food & Health co-hosted the Conference. MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp joined various county elected officials and public works personnel in attending the Conference.

Useful Links

Maryland Sister States Program Webpage