Water management will be critical to the US to realize the “once-in-a-generation opportunity” brought by innovations in unconventional oil and gas production,” according to a new report by Harvard Business School and the Boston Consulting Group America’s Unconventional Energy Opportunity. read more…
Apple extended its leadership in sustainable water on Tuesday when Santa Clara Valley Water District voted to approve a $17.5 million project that will channel more recycled water to the parched South Bay. While the company will only use 3% of the recycled water delivered through the pipeline, it is covering $4.8M of the $17.0 M project. Like many cities in California, Santa Clara is already producing reclaimed water in a plant built many years ago, but its been stumped by the costs of delivering water to users. A majority of the $17.0 M will go toward a 13,300 foot pipeline. On average, building new pipelines from big water plants to water users like the Apple campus cost between $1.0M – $2.0M per mile.
Reclaiming sewage for non-drinking water uses— toilets, outside landscape irrigation and golf courses– saves precious freshwater. About 40% of water used on corporate campuses like Apple’s is for toilet flushing and another 20% is used for outdoor landscaping. Distributed water reclaim systems eliminate the costs of pipelines, but regulation makes these systems expensive. The high costs of piping recycled water from centralized plants is driving states like California to examine how advanced water solutions can ensure safe treatment for waste water in distributed systems close to places like the Apple Campus.
Its exciting to see Apple extend its environmental leadership beyond clean energy into water. In driving new approaches, Apple’s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson brings unique qualifications. As the former head of the USEPA, Jackson understands the value of tech-driven water solutions, such as onsite water reclaim.
Water emerges as the new US military imperative
The high profile successes of the US Department of Defense (DoD) Energy Operations initiative have paved the way for a second wave around water. Delivering fuel to the front lines in Afghanistan and in Iraq cost $400 a gallon, but the cost of water changes at each location.
Saving fuel in forward operating units saves more than money, it saves lives. 170 solidiers were killed in attacks on water and fuel convoys in 2007. Another 68 casualties are attributed to water deliveries during that period.
The cost of water might be tough to quantify, but when the value of water savings can be measured in lives saved, it becomes an operational imperative. Initially, the US DoD estimated that water comprised 20% of supplies brought to forward operating units. However, closer examination in 2010, by the Marines found that a battalion sized FOB had, on a weekly basis, 14 trucks delivering water and 2 trucks delivering fuel.
A forward operating unit can only stay on the front lines as long as its water supply lasts. Efficient onsite water management—applying proven leading-edge onsite water treatment and water reclaim—can help front line units stay longer to complete their missions, and save lives that might be lost in delivering water.
In addition, water has been identified as a “risk multiplier” by the US Quadrennial Defense Review. Water has driven unheaval in places like Syria and Jordan. In areas of political unrest, US defense efforts might mean bringing water technologies to help strengthen the steady flow of water.
On September 2, 2013 in Stockholm, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), launched Securing Water For Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (WGCD).
As part of the White House initiative to stimulate science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, the WGCD will be granting $25 M to the most promising water tech solutions. The program will identify and accelerate science and technology innovations and market-driven approaches that improve water sustainability to boost food security and alleviate poverty. It focuses on three areas that are critical to reducing water scarcity in to the food value chain: onsite water efficiency and reuse, water capture and storage and salinity.
Artemis has been retained as an advisor to the WGCD as it designs the company selection process.
USAID has been charged with the challenge of bringing the best science technology and innovation to developing and emerging markets. The goal is to go beyond showcases and pilots and achieve wide scale impact. The program faces a daunting task.
Advanced water tech innovation will be critical for us to address the water challenges that await us. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions as a result of pollution, overuse, and climate change. Meeting these water challenges will take more than new policies or incremental improvements. Innovation must recast water management to save water, energy and waste.
USAID is bringing the best of it’s leadership and its resources to this challenge. We look forward to supporting this program.