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Ashley Murray: Wastewater is a Resource
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Nominated by Zoë Chafe

Ashley Murray's work is motivated by a simple conviction: human waste is a resource that should be reused. Her uphill battle: most sanitation systems have been built to dispose of (rather than reuse) wastewater and fecal sludge. Ashley uses her urban sanitation expertise -- and infectious enthusiasm -- to help local governments design and retrofit sanitation systems for waste reuse.

Ashley is currently based at the International Water Management Institute in Ghana. She is working to rehabilitate broken wastewater treatment plants to provide (treated) wastewater to urban farmers. But the twist is that the farmers won't just receive water; they will be involved throughout the process. Land around the wastewater treatment plant will become part of the facility. Farmers will assist with daily facility maintenance. And hopefully, the net impact will be reopened wastewater treatment plants that clean water and provide important resources to local residents.

CIMG0727.JPGThis creative scheme builds on two pioneering sanitation planning tools that Ashley developed. One tool quantifies the local value of waste, accounting for economic and environmental information. The other tool helps sanitation planners to develop new infrastructure that is designed specifically for waste reuse. Both have the potential to radically change the way urban sanitation systems are constructed and maintained.

Contact Ashley at murray.ash [at] gmail [dot] com.

Nominator Zoë Chafe is a Worldwatch Institute Senior Fellow and graduate student at the UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group. She is spending the summer at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, where she is working on the Global Energy Assessment -- an international energy science and policy initiative -- as part of the Institute's Young Scientists Summer Program.

Photos: (top, right) Wastewater in Ghana; (bottom, left) Ashley Murray conducting field work in China.

This piece is part of Worldchanging's Attention Philanthropy campaign. All week long, the Worldchanging Network will be delivering "attention grants" to worthy projects, individuals, resources and more. You can learn more about these gifts of notice and find other entries by clicking here.

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