Mayor Gallego Announces Blue Bank to Foster Innovation in Water Conservation

Mayor Kate Gallego and members of the Phoenix City Council have voted unanimously to make new funding available to companies interested in using a leading-edge technology to save water and protect the environment.

The new ‘Blue Bank’ is a partnership between the city, the New Venture Fund’s BlueCommons project, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Business for Water Stewardship (BWS) program. BlueCommons and BWS will provide loans to qualified companies that want to incorporate cooling tower projects in their own buildings and campuses.

A highly successful, large-scale cooling tower water treatment technology pioneered at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the basis of this grant program. Cooling towers are used in industry-scale air conditioning systems – like those at the airport. Because of the hard water in the Phoenix area, corrosion happens quickly, clogging the system with mineral deposits.  The deposits reduce efficiency of the systems, causing them to use more water; they can also require harsh chemicals to remove. By using ingenuity and experimentation, engineers at the airport found that by combining a water softening system with an environmentally friendly disinfectant generator on the cooling towers at Terminal 3, 4, and the Rental Car Center, the results were dramatic. There was a vast reduction in the chemicals needed to keep the pipes clean, and a savings of 31 million gallons of water in Terminal 4 alone. Plus, cooling water can now cycle through the towers 3.5 to six times before it must be discarded – another significant improvement.

Through the non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) approved Wednesday, Phoenix will be responsible for identifying companies that are potentially ready to adopt this technology. BlueCommons and BWS can choose to provide project funding for qualified companies. The hope is to create a rotating funding mechanism for future projects. ​

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