Water: Chicago in the 21st Century and Beyond – Debra Shore, Aaron Packman, and Seth Snyder

Our water has driven our economy, made us a destination for visitors, and ensured we have an adequate water supply. From reversing the Chicago River to building the deep tunnel, managing water has been a driver for Chicago to innovate and reinvent our world.

The world is increasingly recognizing that our relationship with water is changing. This is driven by urbanization, climate change, use of energy, intensification of agriculture, and aging infrastructure. As the West is suffering from severe droughts, Chicago has experienced increased flooding.

Using science, technology, public policy, social networks, and investment, we can develop solutions that both improve our quality of life and enhance our economy. In the future, we will reuse water. This will create opportunities to attract industry that requires a reliable water supply. This is a job creator. We will develop new technologies to support water-intensive industries. This will help us create new companies from our great research institutions. We will improve our environment by recovery value from what is perceived as waste stream, and by decreasing discharges.

Securing Chicagoland’s Water Future: A key group of research institutions, civic leaders, business executives and philanthropists are gathering to lay the foundation for securing the future of the Chicagoland area’s water supply and establish Chicago as a place of innovation in the use and reuse of our freshwater resources. The goal of the group is to build on Chicago’s long history of using transformational technology to address challenging water issues, creating an environment that will treat water as not only a key resource for sustained population growth, but as an economic and industrial driver in a water-constrained future. The group is researching key water issues such as infrastructure, climate change, flooding, agriculture, wastewater treatment and recapture and reuse of wastewater for industrial and energy use.

Key members of this effort include Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, as well as business leaders, philanthropic organizations and conservation advocates who are committed to ensuring Chicago leads the way to a sustainable future driven by the area’s abundant natural resources.

Debra Shore is a Commissioner on the Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Debra has been a strong advocate for cleaning up the Chicago waterways and for resource recovery, including the reuse of treated water and the generation and use of biogas. Shore serves on the board of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, was the founding editor of Chicago Wilderness Magazine, is an active volunteer restoring prairies and oak woods in the forest preserves, and was a founding board member of Friends of the Forest Preserves. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD with a degree in Philosophy & Visual Arts, and earned Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia College (Chicago).

Aaron Packman is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Northwestern University. His research focuses on water resources and the interaction of water, sediments, and microorganisms. Important applications of his work include nutrient and carbon dynamics, water quality and contamination, ecosystem degradation and restoration, and waterborne disease transmission. Dr. Packman has received several major awards for his work, including Career awards from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, the Huber Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair award for research and teaching at the Politecnico di Torino, Italy.

Seth Snyder is the leader of a new water initiative at Argonne National Laboratory. He has developed and worked on leading technology and engineering in renewable energy, water, and energy efficiency. He is a Senior Fellow in the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC). He is also a Fellow at UChicago’s Institute of Molecular Engineering (IME) and the Northwestern – Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering (NAISE). He has developed and worked on leading technology and engineering in renewable energy, water, and energy efficiency. His work has resulted in 3 R&D 100 Awards and an FLC Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. He has published over fifty papers, has seventeen patents, and has had his work presented at over ninety conferences over the past decade. Seth is an early morning jazz DJ at Northwestern University’s WNUR radio.

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