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 Directors 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 2017, the WRF Board of Trustees approved three new Focus Areas:

  • Source Separated Organic Feedstock Pre-Treatment and Management Practices
  • Non-Regulated Disinfection By-Products in Drinking, Recycled, and Desalinated Water: Occurrence, Toxicological Relevance, and Control Strategies
  • Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Compliance

RFPs for Focus Area projects will be released in March 2017.

The current list of 11 Focus Areas for 2017 are listed below:

Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Compliance
By 2022, provide resources to assist Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) compliance and inform current and pending LCR regulations by evaluating lead and copper corrosion control mechanisms, developing risk communication resources, exploring lead service line (LSL) issues, analyzing monitoring and sampling requirements, and understanding impacts to wastewater systems.

Source Separated Organic Feedstock Pre-Treatment and Management Practices
By 2022, provide utilities with information and tools to make informed decisions about source separated organics (SSO) feedstock pre-treatment and management practices. SSOs are defined as food wastes originating from restaurants (excluding grease), commercial kitchens, and grocery stores, as well as residential food waste that is separated from other household wastes. This is WRF’s first Focus Area exclusively directed towards wastewater agencies, and its creation strengthens WRF’s commitment to providing scientific research in all areas of One Water.

Non-Regulated Disinfection By-Products in Drinking, Recycled, and Desalinated Water: Occurrence, Toxicological Relevance, and Control Strategies
By 2021, examine the formation of non-regulated DBPs during water treatment processes; develop control strategies that minimize the formation of regulated DBPs while preventing the formation of non-regulated DBPs; identify sources of bromide, iodide, and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), and develop removal strategies; and provide guidance to utilities to comply with regulations while minimizing unintended consequences.

Cyanobacterial Blooms and Cyanotoxins: Monitoring, Control, and Communication Strategies
By 2020, develop a toolbox to help utilities prepare for cyanobacterial blooms, develop practical monitoring methodologies, cost-effective control strategies, and communication resources.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Developing Tools and Strategies for Improved Energy Efficiency and Integrated WaterEnergy Planning
By 2017, 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.

Biofiltration: Defining Benefits and Developing Utility Guidance
By 2017, determine biofiltration effectiveness at removing contaminants, define benefits and communicate to key stakeholders, and provide utility guidance on optimizing biofiltration.

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