If you travel the world (which everyone arguably should do if they can), you’ll quickly discover that various areas of the globe are in massively different places when it comes to specific industrial advancements. As an example that stands out, take water technology.
In some locations, the reuse of water is incredibly efficient — Israel, for instance, recycles an impressive 90 percent of its water. In fact, the region by far leads the world in water recycling. The next nearest competitor, Spain, recycles just 20 percent.
A mere 1 percent.
With issues such as increased pollution, rising population and climate change all straining our water supply, this poor level of water recycling is simply not acceptable — or sustainable. Leaders across all industries need to rethink their entire approach to using and delivering water.
Put another way, the solution isn’t wrapping businesses up in more policies, although those could help. The real answer is innovating to address completely outdated and ineffective methods.
Getting rid of the giants
Arguably the biggest issue that keeps the United States and other areas of the world from reaching Israel’s exceptional level of success is the reliance on centralized water technologies. An estimated 90 percent of people in the United States rely on mega-facilities for water treatment and distribution, both for home and business use. That means that, to a large degree, people have very little control over their water.
But even worse, those facilities already are breaking down. Maintaining and repairing them balloons the already unnecessarily high price tag of moving water from one place to another safely. And increasingly, it’s just not economically viable to keep the facilities open at all.
The good news is, we can address this dire infrastructure failure — by developing and using decentralized, onsite and modular water treatment systems. These systems can scale based on personal, business or community needs. They also can be built flexibly in ways that address specific geographical concerns or advantages.
It really is that easy
And shifting away from giant water facilities doesn’t have to be difficult. While experts in the water technology field admittedly will need to learn new ways of doing, switching to decentralization does not have to negate their years of scientific understanding, application, and experience. They can teach and inform business and community leaders how to operate smaller, customized systems most effectively, and they can keep doing vital research to further innovation.
From a financial perspective, decentralization can reduce operational costs dramatically. It can also improve autonomy and efficiency, meaning investors can feel more comfortable shelling out funds in the hope of a good ROI. Investment firm RobecoSAM’s report, “Water: the market of the future”, asserts that market opportunities related to the water sector are expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2025.
Why? According to this report, it’s because of five key challenges:
- Population growth.
- Aging infrastructure.
- Water quality improvements are necessary in many places.
- Climate change is altering the availability of water resources.
We can’t grow massive, centralized water systems fast enough to deal with these challenges; especially since those we have are aging fast. Only decentralized systems placed at the “point of need” can respond fast enough.
The United States and other regions are failing when it comes to water technology. But they don’t have to keep failing. By looking at the host of technological options available, we can change course to ensure a continued high quality of home and work life.
View Original Publication - Medium