Between widespread drought, climate unpredictability and aging water supply infrastructure, water utilities face increasing pressure to keep up with current levels of water consumption.
However, the recently passed U.S. infrastructure bill, which has allocated $55 billion for water infrastructure — $35 billion of which will go toward incorporating the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act — signals a much-needed shift in the field. While most of the money will go toward making upgrades to outdated water lines, many hope some of this stimulus will go toward innovation for a more resilient water future.
During a recent panel at VERGE 21, water infrastructure experts weighed in on how new off-grid technologies such as zero-source water and micro-desalination could help create sustainable water supplies for remote communities and curtail water scarcity. Advancements in decentralized water systems reimagine the existing water infrastructure, much of which has failed to change over the past several decades, empowering even communities that have previously been underserved by water utilities to accelerate towards an environmentally conscious infrastructure of the 21st century.
“The role of distributed new technologies is not only solving the water problem, but doing it in harmony with nature,” said panelist Neil Grimmer, who serves as brand president of Source Global, a company that has developed technology to draw water from air. “We’ve taken a brute force approach through the Industrial Revolution and beyond to where we are today … We have to take a stance and say that it is no longer acceptable to have byproducts [of water] that are damaging the environment.”
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