The Middle East and Midwest Come Together in Water Tech Partnerships

Great Lakes Wastewater Treatment TechnologyThe Mideast is proving to be a popular destination for Midwestern political officials to pitch water technology trade deals.

Both Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry have been touting the freshwater potential of their states to businessmen in Israel to promote economic growth in the burgeoning field of water technology.

On Tuesday, Doyle announced that he had signed a bilateral trade agreement between Israel and Wisconsin. The agreement, co-signed by the Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, aims to foster a strong working relationship between the Midwest state and Middle East country in research and development, particularly in water technology.

Meanwhile Cherry has secured commitments with two Israeli companies to locate pilot projects in Michigan, according to his office. One of the companies, EPC Ltd.’s Onsite Wastewater Solutions, announced Tuesday that they are committed to starting pilot projects in Oakland County, located in southeastern Michigan, that will help small communities wastewater issues in innovative ways.

On Wednesday, Cherry’s office announced that he had won a similar commitment from a second Israeli business, Emefcy. Formed in 2007, Emefcy is pioneering the use of microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology to generate energy directly from wastewater. This technique also reduces the high energy costs and carbon footprint of treatment operations. The technology can be used in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants, the food-processing industry, and the agricultural community for confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), according to Cherry’s office.

“We hope the technology will help us to reduce energy costs at wastewater plants throughout Michigan,” said John McCulloch, Oakland County’s water resource commissioner.

“This commitment is another important step in establishing Michigan as the gateway to water technology in North America,” Cherry said.

Both Doyle and Cherry were scheduled to take part in a panel discussion on the water challenges facing North America Tuesday at WATEC Israel 2009, the fifth International Water Technologies, Renewable Energy & Environmental Control conference in Tel Aviv. Other panelists included officials from the Los Angeles’ Department of Water & Power and the U.S.-based Water Environment Federation trade group.

Israel, due to its location in one of the world’s most arid climates, has long grappled with water issues. The country has pioneered concepts like national water management, drip irrigation, wastewater purification and water desalination, according to WATEC. It is home to the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant, the most implemented irrigation plans and the most advanced national water management system. Nearly 75 percent of the country’s wastewater is recycled and used for irrigation, leaving more well water available for human consumption and industrial use.

Sources: Wisconsin Office of the Governor, The Business Journal of Milwaukee, The Jerusalem Post, WATEC Israel 2009

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