As the US has deployed against asymmetric threats in water-scarce regions such as Iraq and Afghanistan, we have seen water resilience become decisive for mission success. Water emerged as a significant burden for expeditionary units, raising their profile and limiting their ability to persist at strategic sites. An estimated 20% of the logistics tail in these engagements was associated with water delivery. In conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq, almost 50% of US casualties were lost in resupply convoys. Saving water saves lives.
Moreover, national security and water security are becoming inextricably related. Water scarcity is emerging a risk multiplier in high-conflict areas but it also presents a looming threat to mission-critical operations at Navy installations in the US and the developed world.
In order to develop a water strategy to reflect the realities of security threats today, DOD will need to tap into a different breed of water tech solutions and also develop new systems for planning and deploying them.
There is no single “golden bullet” technology that can address the water challenges facing the US military, but rather a diverse group of solutions. Desalination, water treatment, and new pumping and monitoring technologies must be brought together. The US military must refine proven solutions for resilient, high performance operation in rugged environments. The US military must tap into the burgeoning world market for advanced water tech solutions to identify innovations.
Fostering the ecosystem of water technology researchers, policy leaders, industry executives, entrepreneurs and investors is important, and should be a target for DoD’s partnership initiatives with the civilian sector. (See Artemis blog on the potential role for water in Pacific Island resilience.)
Most important, the US military must develop a platform for planning, deploying , monitoring and maintaining onsite water systems. Building robust adaptable water systems onsite requires a systemic approach that leverages existing infrastructure and integrates water into microgrids. We must replace site-by-site, hand crafted plumbing systems a “water operating system” master plan paradigm that integrates leading-edge water solutions within operations.
The military has led the development of electricity microgrids, driving a rapidly growing entrepreneurial market for innovation that is redefining energy infrastructure. Without onsite water capabilities, microgrids cannot ensure mission-critical operations.
Civilian operations provide some early examples of integrated onsite systems. Following Katrina, Walmart led the industry in strengthening its stores’ resilience independent of the utility grid. Initial discussions with the Navy and the GSA indicate that onsite water tech solutions that Artemis deploys can help mission-critical sites be independent as well, providing stability and saving energy during emergencies.
Resilient Water Operations Analysis (RWO)
Artemis works with leading corporations like Walmart, Intel and IBM to seek out proven water tech solutions that provide cost savings, efficiency for the short term, and resilience for the long term. We have developed our Resilient Water Operations (RWO) analysis process to examines water use, prioritizes opportunities for building water resilience and charts key performance indicators. The RWO examines installations holistically to identify water/energy nexus costs, risks and synergies.
Driving water efficiency isn’t a project; it’s a continuous process that harnesses technology and the hands-on excellence of employees on the front-lines of operations. RWO changes procedures, but also builds a culture of sustainability and efficiency. Eliminating water waste drives excellence that has impact beyond direct savings. It challenges employees to apply their knowledge and to lead. We’ve seen the RWO process build employee morale and job satisfaction. Over time, RWO drives new behavior and becomes part of the fabric of corporate DNA.