Smart Water Saves Water, Money and Lives

Presidential Elevator

Credit: Pete Souza / White House

Say you caught an elevator ride with the President — you’ve got 45 seconds to say something. What would it be?

I’d talk about water.

Failing water infrastructure causes more illnesses every year in the United States than H1N1 did worldwide in 2009.

Aging water infrastructure wastes billions of liters of drinking water, every day.

Inefficiency makes water utilities the single most energy-intensive industry: 13% of United States energy use originates from the water complex.

A 5% decrease in leaks in the United States would save 270 million gallons of water a day and 313 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually — enough to power 31,000 homes. Not only that, but it’d keep 225,000 metric tons of C02 emissions out of the air. For just 5% better efficiency. Imagine 20%.

The cost to overhaul the water complex would make the President balk: $335 billion is a tough number to swallow.

But doing nothing is betting human lives on a losing hand.

I’d offer the President a moderate alternative: make water infrastructure smarter.

Install sensors, from companies like AUG Signals, Ltd, an Artemis Top 50 company, to monitor water pressure, quality and demand. Integrate software from Artemis Top 50 companies like Derceto, Optimatics and TaKaDu to model water use in real time, dynamically adjusting water delivery to its highest possible efficiency.

The relatively small investment would pay for itself. Utilities could visualize weaknesses in infrastructure, enabling them to prioritize repairs instead of blindly replacing good pipe along with the bad. They would predict failures and plan intelligently, scheduling infrastructure upgrades and distributing costs over a period of years, thus increasing the affordability of each phase.

Smart water monitoring would continue to benefit new infrastructure: sensors would analyze water quality in real time. Utilities would identify toxins immediately, without the long feedback loops inherent in traditional laboratory testing. They’d be able to preempt bacterial outbreaks, industrial contamination and terrorist attacks — saving lives while reducing costs.

It’s a win-win opportunity: jumpstart a new industry, increase water quality, reduce energy usage and carbon emissions, increase national security and prevent tragedies, all while saving billions of dollars now and tens of billions of dollars in the long run.

He’d have to say yes.

 

, , ,

20 Responses to Smart Water Saves Water, Money and Lives

  1. Legionella treatment May 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    an excellent article with a reall and substantive agenda, can I also add that failing water infrasture also accounts for the increased incidences of legionella disease.

  2. Legionella treatment May 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    an excellent article with a reall and substantive agenda, can I also add that failing water infrasture also accounts for the increased incidences of legionella disease.

  3. TaKaDu May 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    A great piece. The Smart Grid seems to be receiving a lot of attention and budgets, while the ‘Smart Water Grid’ – by no means less plausible or feasible, and at least as crucial – is largely ignored. Feels this is about to change, and Artemis Project’s contribution is key.

  4. TaKaDu May 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    A great piece. The Smart Grid seems to be receiving a lot of attention and budgets, while the ‘Smart Water Grid’ – by no means less plausible or feasible, and at least as crucial – is largely ignored. Feels this is about to change, and Artemis Project’s contribution is key.

  5. Loren June 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    What are your thoughts on waste water management onsite? Building the cost of infrastructure into the price of a new home, we could also eliminate the need for city sewers (save for natural water runoff) thus saving resources and the smell of waste treatment plants. Thoughts?

    • Galen Sanford June 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

      Loren, you’re right that distributing costs by encouraging point-of-use water treatment would decrease the need for municipal sewers. However, because the cost of attaching to sewers costs less than installing on-site treatment systems, there’s little economic incentive for builders to voluntarily invest the capital.Yet, some, like the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle (developing the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction), are leading the way.Also, see the article on stormwater runoff for examples of ways to mitigate the need for municipal stormwater systems.

  6. Loren June 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    What are your thoughts on waste water management onsite? Building the cost of infrastructure into the price of a new home, we could also eliminate the need for city sewers (save for natural water runoff) thus saving resources and the smell of waste treatment plants. Thoughts?

    • Galen Sanford June 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

      Loren, you’re right that distributing costs by encouraging point-of-use water treatment would decrease the need for municipal sewers. However, because the cost of attaching to sewers costs less than installing on-site treatment systems, there’s little economic incentive for builders to voluntarily invest the capital.Yet, some, like the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle (developing the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction), are leading the way.Also, see the article on stormwater runoff for examples of ways to mitigate the need for municipal stormwater systems.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. It’s Time for the Smart Water Grid « The BlueTech Blog - June 2, 2010

    […] Smart Water offers equal or potentially greater benefits than Smart Energy, Smart Water isn’t getting equal […]

  2. It’s Time for the Smart Water Grid | CleanTechies Blog - CleanTechies.com - June 9, 2010

    […] Leave comment »Rating: Share0CommentsDigg DiggShareThough Smart Water offers equal or potentially greater benefits than Smart Energy, Smart Water isn’t getting equal coverage. It’s been a great year for the […]

  3. It’s Time for the Smart Water Grid | CleanTechies Blog - CleanTechies.com - June 9, 2010

    […] Leave comment »Rating: Share0CommentsDigg DiggShareThough Smart Water offers equal or potentially greater benefits than Smart Energy, Smart Water isn’t getting equal coverage. It’s been a great year for the […]

  4. Guatemalan “sinkhole” not a sinkhole « The BlueTech Blog - June 12, 2010

    […] must either efficiently repair our infrastructure using smart water management technologies to identify weaknesses, or increasingly decentralize the water […]

  5. Guatemalan “sinkhole” not a sinkhole « The BlueTech Blog - June 12, 2010

    […] must either efficiently repair our infrastructure using smart water management technologies to identify weaknesses, or increasingly decentralize the water […]

  6. TaKaDu Finds a Partner in Schneider Electric « The BlueTech Blog - July 8, 2010

    […] who we’ve written about previously here and here, recently announced they’ve partnered with Schneider Electric, a global energy management […]

  7. TaKaDu Finds a Partner in Schneider Electric « The BlueTech Blog - July 8, 2010

    […] who we’ve written about previously here and here, recently announced they’ve partnered with Schneider Electric, a global energy management […]

  8. Market Driven Tree Hugging - July 27, 2010

    […] energy use reduces fossil fuel extraction (thereby reducing water usage still further) and reduces the release of pollutants like CO2 and mercury into the atmosphere and water […]

  9. Market Driven Tree Hugging - July 27, 2010

    […] energy use reduces fossil fuel extraction (thereby reducing water usage still further) and reduces the release of pollutants like CO2 and mercury into the atmosphere and water […]

  10. TaKaDu Finds a Partner in Schneider Electric - July 28, 2010

    […] who we’ve written about previously here and here, recently announced they’ve partnered with Schneider Electric, a global energy management […]

Login

Lost your password?