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Reimagining Research: Bringing the Right People Together

Jul 15, 2020

The Water Tower

Examples of preliminary project concepts developed by the Technical Advisory Committee in response to stakeholder identified needs in the Lake Lanier Watershed.

On Wednesday, July 15, The Water Tower and Constantine Engineering, Inc. presented the Lake Lanier Watershed Five Year Research Plan at the GAWP 2020 Virtual Annual Conference.

“Our ultimate goal for this project is to create a multiyear research agenda of applied research projects based on stakeholder and technical expertise to maintain and improve the Lake Lanier Watershed through a utility perspective and water quality lens,” said Kristan VandenHeuvel, the Strategic Director of Research and Engagement at The Water Tower.

Although work on the Lake Lanier Watershed is ongoing, much of it has been in silos which has allowed for missed opportunities.

“The water industry, by nature, is very broad and diverse,” said VandenHeuvel. “As we have all experienced, we often get stuck in our individual silos.”

The Water Tower hopes to focus this research through a coordinated plan with stakeholder groups -- consisting of policymakers, agencies, utilities, environmental groups, community groups, and regulators -- and a technical advisory committee – consisting of vetted researchers.

The role of the stakeholders “is to identify the questions and the challenges that need to be addressed regarding Lake Lanier and its watershed,” said Steve Leo, Client Services Manager at Constantine Engineering, Inc.

The preliminary results of online surveys and meetings with stakeholders identified the need for applied research in nutrient management and trading, poultry waste management, siltation, among other topics for future study.

The expectation of the five-year plan “is to create a research roadmap to fill knowledge gaps, strengthen proposals when competing for research funding, and assisting funding partners when they are allocating funding budgets,” said VandenHeuvel.

The Water Tower will publish the centralized, rigorous and relevant applied research agenda, developed in partnership with Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources. The projects developed under the plan will be crowd sourced by stakeholders and supplemented by grants.

“The Water Tower’s goal is to bring the right people and the right resources under one roof,” said VandenHeuvel.

And reimagine the future of the water industry.

The Water Tower is 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 to be a thriving ecosystem of water innovation fueled by imagination, informed by research, and powered by pioneers, 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


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