Construction begins on ‘The Water Tower’ innovation center

A rendering of The Water Tower in Gwinnett County, Ga.

Construction of The Water Tower, a new non-profit water innovation center in Gwinnett County, Georgia, is underway. Completion of the campus, located adjacent to the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center and Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, is anticipated later in 2021. Programming is proceeding in four key areas: applied research, technology innovation, workforce development and community engagement.

“We are grateful to Gwinnett County and the Water and Sewerage Authority for helping to make this possible,” Melissa Meeker, CEO at The Water Tower said. “The Water Tower is a one-stop shop for all things innovation – whether you’re looking to take an operator class, conduct experiments, demonstrate a novel technology, hold a conference – the possibilities are endless.”

The Water Tower campus will feature analytical and experimental laboratory spaces, smart classrooms, and a demonstration area fed by multiple streams to enable water treatment and monitoring experimentation. It incorporates urban water distribution infrastructure and enables collaborating utilities to experiment and assess new monitoring equipment, such as in-flow sensors and meters, and devices such as pumps and valves.

Designed by Gresham Smith and being constructed by Reeves Young, the campus will also feature a state-of-the-art control room and multipurpose auditorium that seats 250 attendees. The lobby areas will highlight interactive educational displays to communicate the value of water and a co-working suite will serve entrepreneurs and companies interested in renting office space. Water-related business tenants will also be located at The Water Tower.

While the combination of these activities all in one place will create a unique ecosystem of innovation, the organization’s work in four key areas is not waiting for the campus’s completion:

Applied Research

  • TWT is currently developing a Lake Lanier Watershed Research Master Plan with the input of regional stakeholders and technical experts. The Plan will provide a multi-year applied research roadmap of projects to address critical needs in the Watershed.

Technology Innovation

  • TWT is currently conducting technology demonstrations with firms including Olea Edge Technologies, Atonix, and others.
  • TWT is developing a Technology Validation Program to provide independent, third party review from expert panels to validate water technologies against provider claims.

Workforce Development

  • TWT is working with 360Water to launch an online training programs for water and wastewater operator courses. Launching this summer, the site will allow students to take courses and tests at their convenience and earn continuing education credit.
  • TWT is developing the hands-on training program which will take place at TWT’s field training center, to be completed in early 2021. Training includes practical experience with water and wastewater systems to gain a better understanding of operator responsibilities.

Community Engagement

  • TWT Virtual Book club, which brings together water professionals to discuss water-related books, is meeting every other month.
  • TWT is working with local schools, such as Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology and others, to encourage students to be better water stewards.
  • A series of videos on water topics were developed and distributed to Gwinnett County Public Schools for teachers to utilize in digital learning days.
  • Videos featuring water professionals from around the U.S. were also developed for students to learn more about career opportunities in the water industry.

The Water Tower will be a new breed of innovation center providing answers to a multitude of complex challenges facing the water industry through an integrated approach to applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and stakeholder engagement. With its mission of global education and information on new water technology and best practices, The Water Tower is especially invested in helping utilities devise strategies to benefit from digital advancements in water supply and quality. For more information visit theh2otower.org.

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