Tuesday marked U.N. World Water Day, and the White House hosted a Water Summit to raise awareness of water issues in the U.S. and catalyze sustainable solutions. The nation has an enormous water problem, as detailed in an op-ed published on Tuesday in the New York Times by Michael E. Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, Austin.
Whether it’s billions of gallons of drinking water lost every day due to leaky pipes, lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan’s water, or wastewater overflowing after storms in New York City, the problems are severe. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the total cost of repairing the country’s water and wastewater systems could be $1.3 trillion or higher. Webber advocates three simultaneous approaches: “To fix our water systems, we need prices that lead to more rational water use and invite needed investment, data to track water resources and usage, and much more research and development.”
Last year’s Blouin Creative Leadership Summit spotlighted sustainable solutions to the global energy crisis, and water usage is a key part of it all. Unfortunately much of the news on water is pessimistic, as with California’s record drought of the past few years, or Greenpeace’s report on Tuesday that China’s coal consumption is exacerbating water shortages in the country’s northeast. But there are some encouraging developments, like the firm Lucid Energy which generates clean electricity from turbines in water pipes. Blouin News has also reported on the prototype Nano Membrane Toilet, which generates electricity and water from waste.
It’s time for efficient water use to become a top priority. Delaying infrastructure upgrades will only harm us down the line.