The nationwide demand for wastewater treatment is expected to grow by 25% in the next decade alone. With nearly 15,000 existing wastewater treatment systems, there is over $271B investment needed for maintaining the nation’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure over the next 20 years. It is important to ensure that this level of investment is inherently profitable and a major contributor to the evolving economies. On the other hand, the major issues with the current wastewater infrastructure are the infrastructure age, inefficient treatment configurations, and an aging workforce. New investment opportunities can be tailored towards adopting more energy-yielding, resource-efficient, and productive treatment schemes, which will naturally replace the existing inefficient treatment systems.
This presentation will highlight two major routes for developing more sustainable and circular economy-based wastewater treatment systems. These are based on the well-known principles of anaerobic digestion and the bioelectrochemical synergy of wastewater microorganisms. In particular, we will examine the potential of enhanced carbon capture, codigestion of various organic waste streams, and integrated anaerobic and bioelectrochemical systems for developing these productive treatment systems. The presentation will also discuss the present and future water infrastructure needs and will highlight the role of education in preparing the future water workforce.