Water scarcity is a big problem in the U.S. The Colorado River supplies drinking water to 30 million Americans in seven states and Mexico, plus irrigation water for farmers. The river is drying up in places. Lake Mead in Arizona may be dry by 2021 as a result because the Colorado River supplies 97 percent of its water. The lake supplies drinking water for populations in California, Arizona, Nevada, and northern Mexico. Created in the 1930s, the lake is one of the world’s largest reservoirs.
Business has an opportunity to create innovation in the water sector. The good news is that there are companies in the U.S. that are innovating. These are companies that are making a difference in the country’s agricultural sector, recycling water, and creating water technologies.
A company that farms 11,000 acres in the arid Central Valley of California, considered to be the agriculture center of the world, uses technology to be more efficient with irrigation. Called Bowles Farming Co., They use technology that helps with water control and gathering data to more efficiently irrigate their crops. The company shares data across its operations. As Danny Royer, Vice President of Technology at Bowles said, “Data is what’s going to provide the solution, but we have to create systems that give the people [the data] who have the competencies to solve the problem.”
Intel is building a massive water recycling plant
The technology company Intel is building a water recycling plant in Hillsboro, Oregon. The plant will have the capacity to recycle one billion gallons of water daily, which equals 90,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. It will be the company’s largest water recycling plant.
The plant will help the company meet its 2025 goal to return 100 percent of the water it uses to communities and watersheds. Intel has conserved around 60 billion gallons of water over the last two decades.
Intel is the largest water user in Hillsboro. Manufacturing computer chips takes a significant amount of water. Those chips are in our laptops and tablets. The company’s water bill in the Oregon city was $6.7 billion in 2016 alone for use of 2.3 billion gallons of water. Recycling one billion gallons a year would help Intel save money plus cut down on its local water use.
Xylem invests in water innovation
Xylem is a water technology company that installed a wastewater system which uses a UV/chlorine process to treat wastewater at the Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant in Los Angeles. It is also a company that is investing in other companies by partnering with Imagine H2O, a non-profit organization helping entrepreneurs create solutions to water challenges. Over 100 startups have participated in the program. As a Sustaining Core Sponsor, Xylem has an opportunity to support the non-profit organization’s flagship accelerator.
“We look forward to working with Imagine H2O, and leveraging the strength of our experts and technologies, to champion the next generation of innovative water start-ups and the courageous entrepreneurs who lead them – and to working together to help convene and amplify the global conversation about solving water,” said Jay Iyengar, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at Xylem.
Ecolab provides a free online tool for companies to be more efficient with their water use
The recent launch of the free online tool called Ecolab Smart Water Navigator will help businesses improve their facilities’ water management. The tool is based on a 13-question assessment and its Smart Water Navigator shows companies how their facilities stack up to leading water management practices in their industry. Each facility is put on a Water Maturity Curve that creates a guide with steps to take to help the company build better water practices.
An increased need for innovation will benefit the environment and the economy
As more companies practice better water management, there will be an increased need for innovation. And that will benefit both the environment and the economy. Call it a win-win for the planet and its denizens.
Image credit: Bureau of Land Management, courtesy Flickr