May 02, 2016

Udall Launches Water Technology Innovation Initiative with Roundtable Discussion Featuring Sandia Labs Researchers, Water Tech Leaders, Local Students

Focus on developing water efficiency technology could help NM turn challenge into strength and jobs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall initiated the first of several conversations he will hold about how he can help stimulate new jobs by supporting cutting-edge technologies that save water, energy and money for businesses and consumers.

At a roundtable at Applied Technology Associates in the Sandia Science & Technology Park, Udall gathered leaders in water technology, including architect Dale Dekker and developer Gary Goodman, representatives of water technology companies, and scientists from Sandia National Laboratories. Participants shared research and ideas for how to improve water technology to promote efficiency. And a group of students from the Bosque School and Rio Rancho High School shared their work with the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program.

"Albuquerque is a leader in water conservation, making great strides as a center for water technology development - and we have to be. New Mexico's arid climate means drought is always a threat. We have to make every drop count, and where possible, count more than once," Udall said. "But we can turn this challenge into a strength - and create jobs - by leading the nation in water technology innovation. Building on what we're already doing in water technology also will help us become more efficient and strengthen our economy. I initiated this conversation because collaboration, innovation and better coordination are critical to make progress, and I want to be a strong partner for this effort in Washington."

The effort builds on Udall's work as an advocate for technology transfer - turning research done at New Mexico's Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories into marketable products. He has partnered with Los Alamos and Sandia labs, local tech firms, venture capitalists and others to spur tech transfer at DOE. While he will continue to lead the push on tech transfer, Udall hopes to help advance a similar effort on water technology.

Researchers at Sandia Labs also are doing innovative research on ways to use water more efficiently, said Marianne Walck, Vice President for California Laboratory and Energy and Climate Programs at Sandia.

"For nearly two decades, Sandia National Laboratories has been recognized as a leader in water technology research and development," said Walck, who participated in the event. "Our ongoing water technology research has led to over 20 patents and three R&D 100 Awards, building on our strong foundations in materials science, water chemistry, molecular modeling and systems modeling."

In April, Udall passed water efficiency legislation through the Senate as part of a bipartisan energy efficiency bill. His Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Act will help communities upgrade water infrastructure to prevent leaks, saving both money and energy. The Senate energy legislation also included his bipartisan amendment to expand the WaterSense Program, a labeling program like EnergyStar, which promotes water efficient appliances. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Udall also has championed stronger funding for the WaterSMART program, which funds Bureau of Reclamation water planning, efficiency, reuse and other projects, including recent initiatives in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the Navajo Agricultural Project Industry.

Four years ago, Udall co-hosted a water resources conference in Southern New Mexico to discuss New Mexico's water challenges and develop a plan - and legislation - to help address future water scarcity. He reintroduced that legislation earlier this year.

Udall hopes to build on today's conversation by soliciting ideas for ways he can partner with innovators and entrepreneurs. He will take the ideas shared with him to Washington where he sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds government programs and helps guide national priorities.