The Focus Area program enables the Water Research Foundation to address broadly relevant subscriber issues, challenges, and opportunities with a targeted, sustained research effort. 60 percent of our annual research budget is allocated to this program. Our Board of Trustees obligates program funds each January and individual projects are then approved and funded by our Board-appointed Focus Area Council (FAC).

The Focus Area program enables the Water Research Foundation to address broadly relevant subscriber issues, challenges, and opportunities with a targeted, sustained research effort. Sixty percent of our annual research budget is allocated to this program. Our Board of Trustees obligates program funds each January and individual projects are then approved and funded by our Board-appointed Focus Area Council (FAC).

The program is developed around specific research areas, called Focus Areas. In January 2016, the WRF Board of Trustees approved a new Focus Area, Cyanobacterial Blooms and Cyanotoxins, which was identified through a review of research needs, existing research, and input from WRF stakeholders. The BOT set the 2016 Focus Area budget at $2.17M.

RFPs for the 10 Focus Area projects and one resource recovery/wastewater research roadmap project will be released on March 4, 2016.

In addition to the Focus Area projects, an RFP will be released for the following project:

  • Project #4677: Research Development Workshop – Integrated Process Management for Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Operations Research Roadmap
    A professionally facilitated workshop will be organized to support the development of research objectives and a prioritized research roadmap surrounding integrated process management for drinking water and wastewater treatment operations. To be held in mid-2016, the workshop will bring together up to 35 experts representing key stakeholders to develop the research roadmap.

Volunteer Opportunities for Focus Area Projects:

Water Research Foundation subscribers are encouraged to participate by volunteering to serve as a test facility, provide water samples, respond to surveys, loan equipment, or share staff expertise on particular research projects. Participating utilities gain firsthand information about the study and benefit from working with researchers and others in the water community. Interested organizations must complete the online UPIR volunteer application form by February 26, 2016.

Additionally, subject matter experts are urged to volunteer to serve on Project Advisory Committees (PAC) that will oversee each funded project. The 2016 application deadline to serve on a PAC is February 26, 2016. Interested volunteers should complete the online PAC volunteer application form.

The current list of 11 Focus Areas and the 10 approved projects for 2016 are listed below:

New Focus Area: Cyanobacterial Blooms and Cyanotoxins: Monitoring, Control, and Communication Strategies
Develop a toolbox to help utilities prepare for cyanobacterial blooms, develop practical monitoring methodologies, cost-effective control strategies, and communication resources.

  • No projects funded in 2016.

Waterborne Pathogens in Distribution and Plumbing Systems
By 2020, advance the science and understanding of waterborne pathogens in distribution and plumbing systems and improve monitoring, control, and communication strategies.

  • Project #4664: Customer Messaging on Plumbing Systems Issues
    The objective of this project is to develop customer communication messages on the risk of opportunistic pathogens in plumbing systems (a.k.a., premise plumbing) and how to minimize risk.

Defining Attributes and Demonstrating Benefits of Intelligent Water Networks
By 2020, define attributes, costs, and benefits of intelligent water distribution and collection systems, and demonstrate existing technologies at one or more sites.

  • Project #4670: Defining Optimum Security and Communication Methodologies for Intelligent Water Networks
    The objective of this project is to identify and define the various communication needs for intelligent water networks, including SCADA, GSM, cellular, and radio frequency transmissions. It will also identify appropriate communication methodologies and protocols for effective and secure transfer of data, identify security risk exposures for the communicated data and risks to operations envisioned with the intelligent system, and provide means to protect data.
  • Project #4663: Upgrading Workforce Skills to Meet Demands of an Intelligent Water Network
    The objective of this project is to prepare utilities for the workforce changes anticipated as they implement increased automation and smart water technologies. It should examine changing job requirements for the workforce of the future, as well as various means of attracting and training both new and existing workers to fill these more skilled positions.

Integrated Water Management: Planning for Future Water Supplies
By 2019, enhance water utility implementation of integrated water management and water supply diversification. Provide data, tools, and knowledge to support water supply diversification efforts through an integrated water management approach; improve water supply planning to be more integrated, resilient, and reliable; and evaluate how new water supplies from nontraditional sources can be protective of public and environmental health.

  • Project #4665: Determine Water Quality Requirements for Alternative Drinking Water Sources
    Through a literature review, case studies, and expert insight, compile the water quality requirements for potable reuse applications for alternative sources at conventional treatment facilities. Alternative sources include graywater, stormwater, rainwater, and wastewater effluent to support water supply diversification.

Contaminants of Emerging Concern and Risk Communication: Developing Core Messages and Engaging Critical Stakeholders
By 2016, develop core messages and strategies for water utilities to communicate about the relative risk of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) with different audiences, and facilitate dialogue among key stakeholder groups to foster agreement on CEC issues and solutions.

  • No projects funded in 2016.

Best Practices for Setting Rates, Financing Capital Improvements, and Achieving Stakeholder Support
By 2017, develop utility communication resources, critically evaluate rate-setting strategies, tap financial best practices and efficiencies from outside the water industry, develop decision support tools for capital improvement financing, and enhance water affordability assistance programs.

  • Project #4662: Challenges and Practical Approaches to Water Reuse Pricing
    The objective of this project is to evaluate water reuse pricing challenges and practical approaches to reuse pricing.

Applying Risk Management Principles and Innovative Technologies to Effectively Manage Deteriorating Infrastructure
By 2017, provide utilities with tools and strategies to optimize the use of condition assessment and risk management in making infrastructure renewal decisions, and guidance on the use of innovative renewal techniques.

  • Project #4661: Practical Condition Assessment and Failure Probability Analysis of Small Diameter Ductile Iron Pipe
    The project will develop a manual of practice for condition assessment (CA) and related evaluations of small diameter (12” and smaller) ductile iron (DI) pipes in order to help utilities assess their pipe inventory and identify those pipes most in need of renewal. This work will be based on what is available now in terms of CA technologies and will include information about costs and limitations of each technology.
  • Project #4666: Case Study Compilation on Applying Risk Management Principles and Innovative Technologies to Effectively Manage Deteriorating Infrastructure
    This project will compile case studies from utility programs and projects on strategies and tools to manage deteriorating water system infrastructure, especially those efforts that involve the management of risk and the use of innovative condition assessment and renewal technologies.

Water Demand: Improving the Effectiveness of Forecasts and Management
By 2018, increase the effectiveness of demand forecasting and management; by increasing our knowledge of water demand factors; providing guidance on preparing forecasts; understanding the uncertainty associated with them; and more effectively incorporating demand forecasts and their uncertainty into financial, infrastructure, and water resource plans.

  • Project #4667: Long-Term Water Demand Forecasting Practices for Water Resources and Infrastructure Planning
    This project will document long-term forecasting practices and their evolution. It will compare past forecasts to actual consumption to determine accuracy. It will also develop recommendations for the urban water community on preparing long-term water demand forecasts for water resources and infrastructure planning, including how to choose the appropriate practices for a utility’s goals and resource availability.

Developing Tools and Strategies for Improved Energy Efficiency and Integrated Water‐Energy Planning
By 2016, provide effective strategies to reduce water utility energy consumption and cost; develop strategies for multi-sector, regional, and integrated water-energy planning; and provide sound approaches for energy generation by water utilities.

  • Project #4668: Managing Water and Wastewater Utility Data to Reduce Energy Consumption and Cost
    This project will provide guidance to water and wastewater utilities on leading practices for data collection and management to reduce energy consumption and the cost of pumping operations and treatment processes.

Biofiltration: Defining Benefits and Developing Utility Guidance
By 2016, determine biofiltration effectiveness at removing contaminants, define benefits and communicate to key stakeholders, and provide utility guidance on optimizing biofiltration.

  • No projects funded in 2016.

NDMA and Other Nitrosamines: Precursor Control, Treatment Practices and Distribution System Operations to Achieve Regulatory Compliance
By 2019, provide resources to inform rule-makers and assist utility compliance with pending regulations by understanding the occurrence, precursor formation, treatment and control, and fate of nitrosamines in distribution systems.

  • Project #4669: Biological Treatment: NDMA Control or Source of Precursors?
    The objective of this project is to develop a better mechanistic understanding of the impact of biofiltration on NDMA precursors and provide guidance to utilities to control the formation of NDMA during biofiltration, while minimizing potential unintended consequences.