D+ Water Infrastructure Rating Calls for Innovation

Water Innovation - the Need of the Hour 

Water is a unique commodity. It is needed for virtually everything we produce and consume. Despite its versatility and necessity, water is not treated like other commodities. It is not priced in the global marketplace, albeit that its global demand outpaces supply. When it is priced - locally as in the US and elsewhere, the price is never right, as it does not adequately reflect the state level or national water economics, cost of infrastructure investment, distribution losses or the opportunity cost of its various uses (example - agriculture use versus potable water versus electricity generation)  

American Society of Civil Engineers, in its 2017 infrastructure report card, gave the nation's overall infrastructure a grade of D+. Drinking Water infrastructure received a 'D' while waste water was given D+. All in all, a worrisome situation!

In its second in series Failure to Act reports on water and wastewater released in 2013, ASCE highlighted a gap of $84.4 billion, which by 2020 will manifest as $59 billion of increased costs to households, $147 billion of increased costs to businesses and $416 billion loss in GDP. This dismal situation can be reversed by investment, particularly into innovation - new tools, techniques and approaches that help solve challenges of water quality, quantity, reliability and affordability and results in economic and environmental benefits.

Nevada and Queensland Joining Hands for Water Innovation 

WaterStart, a nonprofit is working towards a better water future through innovation. Set up in 2013, WaterStart provides channels for water innovation by leveraging Nevada’s water expertise, capability and leadership in the academic, public and the private sector. It operates in a region of proven first adopters that are sitting at the nexus of technology, research and economic development and aims to accelerate the rate of adoption of new solutions to real challenges facing water management agencies and large consumers.

Recently, WaterStart signed a landmark agreement with Queensland Urban Utilities, which could see innovation in Australia’s water industry showcased on the world stage. Earlier this year, the Queensland Government and the state of Nevada became Sister States, committing to work collaboratively across key industries and opportunities including advancement in water technology.

Queensland Urban Utilities is the first international organization to be invited to join WaterStart. Established in 2010, Queensland Urban Utilities is one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia, providing water and sewerage services to more than 1.4 million residents. The utility company is currently upgrading and improving the reliability of its infrastructure by investing $2.76 billion in a 10-year capital works program. 

 “Water and wastewater utilities around the world face common challenges and WaterStart enables companies to come together to innovate and share their findings with the industry. Queensland Urban Utilities has a reputation for commitment to innovation, so we’re looking forward to sharing their research and development initiatives with the WaterStart community," WaterStart Executive Director Nathan Allen said. "This agreement could provide opportunities for technology companies solving challenges in the Australian water and wastewater industry to be introduced to the market in the United States,” he opined on how the agreement was good news for Australia's start-up community. 

Queensland Urban Utilities Innovation Research and Development Manager Colin Chapman said, "Joining WaterStart is an exciting milestone. Since launching our Innovation Program in 2013, we’ve made a concerted effort to embed innovation across our business. At the moment, our Innovation Program is delivering 63 initiatives, of which six key projects are targeting anticipated benefits of up to $4 million in efficiencies, savings and offsets for our business. Working with WaterStart will allow us to tap into research and technology around the world and give us an opportunity to share insights from our Innovation Program with international partners.”