Australian firm STAR Water Solutions recently joined WaterStart, a group of organizations from Nevada’s private and public sectors hoping to spur economic growth in the water sector, in research and innovation. The company will work with Desert Research Institute (DRI), the environmental research branch of the Nevada System of Higher Education, to identify available materials in Nevada, improve water filtration efficacy and cost-effectiveness, and develop sustainable bio-filters from recycled materials. Ultimately, the organizations hope to develop new analytical practices, manufacturing opportunities, and uses for recycled materials that will benefit the state environmentally, socially, and economically.
STAR Water Solutions is the second Australian firm to join the WaterStart coalition. Queensland-based engineering company RedEye is helping the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Las Vegas Valley Water District to incorporate cloud-base software into their operating systems, which will increase efficiency by enabling wireless design collaboration.
Water research and innovation is essential to Nevada, where 6% of the state is still considered “abnormally dry.” Australia, often referred to as a case study for West Coast states plagued by drought conditions, battled a similar crisis for 14 years and triumphed by harvesting rainwater and recycling wastewater. STAR Water Solutions will bring a similar stormwater treatment and reuse technology that will reduce water usage in Nevada.
STAR Water Solutions’ collaboration with DRI stems from a 2016 visit by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to Australia. The governor and his delegation met with various Australian officials and established several partnerships. While in Queensland, the governor signed a statement of intent with Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk, agreeing to strengthen collaborations in water innovation, higher education, and the mining industry. During the trip Governor Sandoval also signed a memorandum of understanding that formalized research ties between the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Sydney on the minimization of gambling risks.
Australia is Nevada’s tenth largest trading partner, with $149 million in trade in 2015. The state also had the most per capita jobs supported by exports to Australia in the country in 2013.
Genna Liu is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a government and economics student at Dartmouth College.