Ferguson Ventures partnered with several municipality customers to identify and tackle one of the top challenges in the wastewater industry. As a result, they have launched the 2020 Clearwater Challenge to find innovative ideas that address the critical issues related to Inflow and Infiltration, or I&I. I&I are the different ways that clearwater enters the sanitary sewer system. Clearwater is not considered potable, or drinkable, as it’s groundwater and stormwater. It’s called “clearwater” because it is not “wastewater,” which comes from plumbing fixtures such as sinks, toilets, bathtubs, etc.
You may be wondering why this issue matters to the largest plumbing and waterworks distributor in the nation. Our sanitary sewer systems are not designed to carry clearwater – only wastewater. An increased volume of I&I to the sanitary sewer system creates a variety of negative impacts. Over the years, wastewater treatment plants notice high flows due to constant intense rain events, leaking pipes and other unknown conditions. Increased water flow creates significant issues in terms of operational costs, effectiveness, and permit compliance.
“Our customers in the waterworks industry which include public and private water and sewer authorities, utility contractors, public works/line contractors, heavy highway contractors and more, rely on Ferguson Waterworks for our customer-first approach to supply and service their sanitary sewer systems,” says Waterworks Vice President, Bo Camposano. “They’ve come to trust us because Ferguson’s long-standing reputation among contractors, plumbers, and builders translates easily into the industry. We all have the same goal – providing our nation with clean water and safe, sanitary wastewater removal. During wet weather, infiltration and inflow can increase the flow to sanitary sewers to the point of overload. When this occurs, the excess water can cause sewers to overflow and release pollutants into our waterways and damage private property by creating backups into basements. We’re looking to protect all our customers and their investments in our products – and be good stewards of our environment by protecting our waterways.”
The 2020 Clearwater Challenge seeks solutions to radically improve the detection of infiltration and inflow into sanitary sewer systems, with the goal of better identifying the needs for intervention and reducing excess water flow. Submissions are due by Dec. 4 and ideally, submissions will address detection, quantification and remediation of I&I. Ferguson Ventures will also accept submissions that solely address detection and quantification. This is an opportunity for companies and individuals with a unique I&I solution to pitch in front of a validated group of potential customers and investors.
"The open challenge will facilitate a diverse set of ideas to come to the forefront for evaluation and potential implementation, thereby enriching our industry as we strive to enhance the quality of life of ratepayer," says Yosef Kebede, Acting Bureau Head – Bureau of Water and Wastewater, Baltimore City Department of Public Works.
Ferguson Waterworks and Ferguson Ventures is excited to partner on the 2020 Clearwater Challenge with ODU Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, WSSC Water, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Howard County Government, Anne Arundel County and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority to engage the next generation problem solvers – scientists, students, start-ups – across sectors and disciplines to address an important issue keeping water treatment operators and engineers up at night: inflow and infiltration.